VIS athletes triumph at Athens

The performance of our Olympic and Paralympic teams in Athens was exceptional.

Written by Dr Frank Pyke (VIS ED 1990 – 2006) for VIS Pinnacle Newsletter in 2004. 

Great results for VIS Olympians 

Victorian Institute of Sport athletes made an outstanding contribution to the medal tally at the Athens Olympic Games in August. Of the 70 VIS athletes who represented Australia at the Games, 18 won medals in eight sports and another ten Victorian athletes finished fourth. 

Six VIS athletes joined triple and dual Olympic rowing champions James Tomkins and Drew Ginn in winning the greatest prize in world sport, an Olympic gold medal. 

These included diver Chantelle Newbery, cyclist Brett Lancaster, swimmers Brooke Hanson and Giaan Rooney, and hockey players Travis Brooks and Stephen Mowlam. 

Since the opening of the VIS in 1990 a total of 26 athletes from the Institute have become Olympic champions. Before this time only 12 Victorians had ever won an Olympic gold medal. 

There were also seven athletes who experienced near misses among the VIS contingent of 70 athletes. Fourth place finishes went to Shane Kelly (cycling), Catherine Arlove (judo), Sarah Blanck (sailing), Lauryn Mark (shooting), Jo Fox (water polo) and Shayne Reese and Gian Rooney, members of the women's 4 x 100metre freestyle relay team. 

The VIS has been very pleased with it's contribution to the performance of an outstanding Australian team and based on these results we can confidently look forward to the further success of Victorian athletes at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 18 months times. 

VIS Paralympians bring home 29 medals from Athens

The Athens Paralympics provided a magnificent showcase for our athletes to compete at the highest level in from of huge enthusiastic crowds. For many spectators and the thousands of children on school excursions, curiosity was probably a major reason for their initial involvements. 

They came away from the experience with a new insight and enlightened understanding. What they witnessed was elite performances of skill, endurance, power, courage and determination. The athletes are appreciated and applauded for their "abilities" not their "disability". 

Image: Victorian Paralympians at the Welcome Home Ceremony at the VIS in 2004 

Since its inception the VIS has always had a program for athletes with a disability. The program encourages the integration of the athletes into the mainstream programs. It was the first of its type in the world and has been highly effective in producing medal-winning athletes at the last four Paralympic Games. 

In Athens, the VIS athletes again made a significant contribution of 29 medals to the total Australian tally of 100. In the closing hours of the Games, track and field legend Tim Sullivan won another gold medal in the 400 metre event, making this his fourth gold medal in Athens and ninth gold medal in total (in Sydney he won five). His other gold medal winning events in Athens were the 100m event where he broke the world record, the 4x100 relay and the 200m event. 

VIS Paralympians contributed to eight gold, 11 silver and ten bronze medals with most of the medals coming from athletics and swimming. This equates to almost 70% of the VIS Paralympians who participated in the Games winning medals. 

We can put a lot of this success down to thinking and acting as a team, a coordinated group of individuals who work together in each others best interests. They don't care who gets the credit as long as the team succeeds, the talk is "we, our and us" rather than "I, me and my". Our nation was built on teamwork and it was clearly on show in Athens. Congratulations to all of our athletes for making us feel very proud to be Australian during the Games. 

Stay up to date with our 'Remembering VIS at the Games' campaign here.

Written by Dr Frank Pyke (VIS ED 1990 – 2006) for VIS Pinnacle Newsletter in 2004.   

Dr Frank Pyke was the inaugural Executive Director of the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) in 1990, a position which he held until 2006. During his tenure at the VIS he developed a number of programs and was respected by so many athletes and staff. In 2011 Pyke passed away several months after he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.  

In his honour, we now present the ‘Frank Pyke Achievement Award’ at our annual Award of Excellence evening, presented to an athlete who had a successful sporting career as well as making a significant contribution to the VIS and their sport, and most importantly been successful in their career path. The Award reflects the VIS motto, ‘Success in Sport and Life’ over the span of the athlete’s career.  

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