The Top 12 Aussie Sportspeople Of 2018 Who Weren't Bigheads
Make this list and you're good at two things: sport AND life.
In the second cricket Test between Australia and India in Perth recently, Aussie captain Tim Paine called his Indian counterpart Virat Kohli a "bighead".
Or did he? Most people think he actually said "d**khead". The audio is quite inconclusive. Anyway, it got us thinking.
Who were the best-performing Aussie sportspeople in 2018 who were good people too. Who excelled at life AND sport in 2018? Here are 12 we came up with. Just so you know, we've ordered them alphabetically.
What DIDN'T he do in 2018? A fourth Australian Open singles crown, a second US Open, a moment that made Arnold Schwarzenegger look weak... A basketballer, tennis player and broadcaster with his own foundation to help disabled kids, Alcott is an inspiration -- and a man with a very strong social conscience too, as evidenced by his always entertaining and thought-provoking Twitter profile.
He was the human embodiment of the proverbial chook with the broken wing. But even a fractured scapula (broken shoulder blade) couldn't stop Cronk playing -- and winning -- the NRL Grand Final with the Sydney Roosters as he helped steer his team to victory with passes, verbal commands and what may have been the nine most painful tackles in sporting history. Cronk moved north from Melbourne to marry his Sydney-based partner in the pre-season, a move few elite male athletes would make these days. Solid human.
Madison de Rozario
Madi won the gold in both the 1500m and the marathon at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April, then backed up and won the London Marathon a week later. These feats cemented her as the new face of Aussie wheelchair racing, especially with the subsequent retirement of Kurt Fearnley.
But as we wrote in this piece, we love her attitude as much as her athleticism. De Rozario takes on her trolls and always wins. She also writes eloquently about body image, and how the "perfect body" is a social construct. Amazing young woman. Also, and this is important, she loves her dog Sebastian. A lot.
Jess Fox won everything with a paddle in 2018 except for a Paddle Pop eating competition, though that's only because she didn't enter one. A medalist at the last two Olympics, Fox returned to the Rio Olympic canoe slalom course this year to win world championships in both the C1 and K1 -- that's canoe (single blade) as well as kayak (double blade, one on each side of the boat).
That's nine world titles in total (including team events) thanks very much. In April, Fox had her canoe stolen, calmly posted about it on Insta and presto! It was returned. She's also studying journalism ** gulp **. We really hope there are no errors in this copy.
This might have been our favourite sports moment of the first half of 2018. Pyeongchang, South Korea. The temperature close enough to minus 15. A young man from Gosford, NSW -- whose car-dealer dad drove him eight hours to the snow each Friday in winter for years -- was about to ski the run of his life.
WHAT A RUN!
Matt Graham was in first place. Only world number one and best mate Mikael Kingsbury could deny him gold now. The Canadian had to ski the perfect run. And he did. No worries. Any medal was as good as gold for Graham, and that's why he pulled out the old "That's Gold" sign from the NRL Footy Show (see pic below), in a world-first fusion of winter sports and second-rate NRL light entertainment.
Everyone wanted a piece of Steph when she won the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach. It was one of three wins she had this year en route to her seventh world title. After she sewed up number seven, people started asking whether she was up for chasing Kelly Slater's 11 world championships. "I hate that question," she memorably said, and we love her all the more for saying it.
We'd rather Alex wasn't on this list. We'd rather his career was still in progress rather than cruelly on hold -- again. The Sydney Swans defender endured five knee reconstructions and 2,136 days on the sidelines between the 2012 AFL Grand Final and his return against Collingwood for the Swans this year.
His comeback -- in a thrilling Swans win against the eventual premiership runners-up -- was a triumph. Then he ruptured the ACL in his previously undamaged right knee two weeks later.
Johnson hasn't given up hope of another return with a different club in his native Melbourne. Whatever happens, the way he's handled himself every single day since that first injury has been amazing.
She missed out on the big international player-of-the-year gongs again, but ask any female football player in the world who they fear on the forward line and you'll only get one name.
Kerr is the key player for the Matildas as they head to the FIFA World Cup in 2019, but she's also their public relations trump card off the field. Kids can't get enough of the 25-yer-old West Australian and she's happy to play the goodwill game.
Lyle, a pro golfer from Warrnambool who won twice in the US in his career, died of leukaemia in 2018. He didn't play much golf this year, but we've included him on this list because he was a one-of-a-kind person -- generous, funny, loyal and much more.
Even in the days before his death, he maintained his sense of humour, telling his great mate, golfer Robert Allenby, that he was "still the biggest wanker I've met". Lyle was famous in the golf community for shouting "You F**cking Beauty!" when he hit a hole-in-one once in America.
As we wrote in this story (and as you can see in the video below), there was only ever one way he was going to be sent off at his funeral.
Perry makes runs the way politcians make expenses claims. Just when you think the numbers can't go higher, up they go. The 28-year-old's 2018 form with both bat and ball has been sublime. But especially with the bat in T20 cricket, she's just been unstoppable this year. Like the footballer Sam Kerr, Perry also signs autographs until the last kid has gone. And there are a lot of kids at women's cricket matches these days.
Simmons was without doubt the highest-profile Australian sportsperson to make it big on the global stage this year. He had a huge debut season for the Phildalphia 76ers, doing what no Aussie has done as he won the NBA's rookie-of-the-year gong.
Did he have a relatively poor playoff series against the Celtics last season as the 76ers were eliminated? He did.
Does he need to work on his shooting from anywhere beyond close range? Absolutely.
Is he big enough to know he is still a work in progress? You betcha.
So anyway, when's the last time you arrived at work looking this cool?
Brandon has a big brother called Mitchell Starc who is reasonably adept at cricket. But let's be honest about the true sporting talent in the Starc family. No doubt at all it's Brandon, who won the high jump at this year's Gold Cast Commonwealth Games, and who also out-jumped the world in the 2018 final of the Diamond League -- the world's biggest athletics series.
That put him in very rare company for an Aussie. But you know what we really love about Starc? We met him once and he's just a really, really, really nice guy. At the end of an Aussie sporting year which will be remembered for cheating cricketers, we need people like that.