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IAS Celebrates 30 Years

Published on 6th of Jul, 2015

In the early 1980’s, in the backrooms for the University of Wollongong, a small group of passionate sports people hatched the idea of ‘assisting young talented high performance athletes in the region’ pursue sporting glory while remaining in the Illawarra. If it wasn’t for the persistence of this small group with a big vision, the Illawarra Academy of Sport may never have seen the light of day.

It has long been acknowledge that prior to the establishment of the  Academy in December 1985, under the banner of the ‘Illawarra Institute of Sport’, many promising athletes did not have the opportunity to train under top level coaches all year round, and that in some cases, athletes had to travel to Sydney or interstate to reach their sporting potential.

Thirty years on and the Academy is now well entrenched in the regions talent development and high performance pathways and has supported more than 5000 aspiring young sporting citizens in their pursuit of sporting excellence.  

The Illawarra has a rich history in developing and elevating athletes to higher representative honours, with the Academy a significant vehicle in the process. The Academy has produced 11 Olympians (13 medals), 17 Commonwealth Games Representatives (25 medals), 11 World Champions and 69 Senior National Team Representatives over the past three decades.

The Academies alumni include Shane & Brett Lee, Sally Fitzgibbons, Luke Wilkshire, Kieran Govers, Siobhan Paton, Rochelle Gilmore, Josh Morris and more recently David & Emma McKeon, Caleb Ewan, Tristan White, David Smith and Ryan Gregson.

IAS President and longest serving Director with 27 years on the Board, Mr Brian Weir couldn’t have been prouder telling WIN News “we are proud to have the success we’ve had through the development of athletes across three decades that have gone on to represent Australia, everything from world champions right through to champions in the community as young citizens”

IAS General Manager, Mr Shannon Fraser recognised the important role the Academy plays in athlete development.

“The Illawarra Academy of Sport continues to provide equal opportunity, importance and encouragement to talented young athletes and coaches within the Illawarra region to achieve excellence through sport while becoming better citizens within our community”.

The Academy, with the support of Southern Phone, recently hosted a 30th Anniversary Cocktail Function “to acknowledge and pay tribute to the many volunteers, directors, sponsors, partners, staff and community stakeholders who passionately contributed to the Academy’s success over the past three decades” Fraser said

Under the stars on ‘The Deck’ of the prestigious Novotel Wollongong Northbeach, many familiar faces braved the chilly conditions to reconnect and share stories of past involvement.

Amongst the distinguished guest, Member for Kiama and Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier - Illawarra and South Coast, Mr Gareth Ward MP, Member for Keira, Mr Ryan Park MP, Southern Phone Managing Director, Mr Mark Warren, Wollongong Lord Mayor, Cr Gordon Bradbery OAM and Wingecarribee Mayor, Cr Duncan Gair, IAS Life Members Mr John O’Dwyer OAM and Mr Brian Weir PSM, renowned coaches Ms Margaret Corbett OAM, Mr Ron McKeon and Mr Bruce Jones, the Academy’s first Cricket coach.

Joining these guest were a number of notable graduates including Shaun Timmins, David & Emma McKeon, Brett Stibners, Leif Selby, Flynn Ogilvie, Jarrod Poort, Madeline Heiner, Jackson Law, David Riolo and Zoe Lynam (nee Uphill).

The Southern Phone Illawarra Academy of Sport 30th Anniversary Function Photo Gallery