Former Newport SLSC Ironwoman sensation, Georgia Miller and legendary Wollongong City SLSC board racer, Bob Little OAM are among four current and former NSW athletes set to be inducted into the Surf Life Saving Australia Hall of Fame later this year.

Announced on Friday morning by SLSA, Miller and Little join Ironman, Dean Mercer, formerly of Thirroul SLSC, and Bate Bay beach specialist, James Stansell as two thirds of the 2022 Half of Fame class who will be formally recognised during their induction ceremony at the National Awards of Excellence in November.

The SLSA Board recently endorsed the nominations of Miller and Little for the prestigious Hall of Fame which permanently displays, commemorates, and recognises members and teams who have achieved outstanding accomplishments and provided exceptional contributions to the development of Surf Life Saving in Australia.

The Hall of Fame awards were first introduced in 2004 and have over 100 inductees across Lifesaving, Sport and Administration.

“The calibre of athletes who are inducted into the SLSA Hall of Fame is always outstanding and it’s testament to the strong surf sports contingent we have in NSW that four of the 2022 inductees cut their teeth competing on our beaches,” said Surf Life Saving NSW President, George Shales OAM.

“I would like to call on each and every one of our 76,000-strong membership to congratulate these four outstanding volunteers on some very well-deserved recognition and look forward to seeing the impact this success has on our members in driving more competitors to strive for excellence in surf sports.”

Dean Mercer OAM

Georgia Miller reflected on the recognition as something she will ‘cherish’ after an outstanding career, even over a relatively short time, to date on the sand and in the ocean.

“It’s such an honour to be named in the Surf Life Saving Australia Hall of Fame and to be alongside some great company,” she said.

“I’m very excited and it’s amazing to be rewarded for all the hard work – it’s something I am going to cherish.

“To be inducted in the Hall of Fame alongside names like Karla Gilbert, Kristy Munroe and Naomi Flood – I looked up to all those women and to be alongside them is a privilege.

“Growing up you never think that’s going to be you, but to now be in the Hall of Fame aged 26 years old, I just can’t believe it.

“There are still so many things I have left to do in my career, plenty of boxes I’m yet to tick and still more I want to get from this sport, so hopefully I can achieve them in the next few years.”

ATHLETE PROFILES

Georgia Miller

Ironwoman, Georgia Miller has carved a name for herself as one of the great surf sports competitors. Across the last decade alone, Miller has won an impressive 35 Aussies gold medals, including 9 during a single Australian Championships.

While her impressive form on the Nutri-Grain Ironwoman circuit and Coolangatta Gold has made her a household name, her surf skills have also seen her win the prestigious Australian surf race title an extraordinary six times. She has twice won the SLSA Athlete of the Year title and in 2021 was crowned Aussies Athlete of the Carnival.

She is one of the few in the sport to win the triple Ironwoman crown in the same season, taking home the Aussies, Coolangatta Gold and Nutri-Grain Series titles. Miller has also represented her country as part of the Australian Lifesaving Team at the World Championships.

Robert Little OAM

Robert (Bob) Little has an impressive Surf Life Saving career that spans more than 50 years of distinguished service to surf sports. Over the decades, Bob has been an active surf sport competitor, administrator, coach and official.

Commended for his tireless work of over 25 years as a referee at Australian Championships, what sets Bob apart is his competition success through the period of 1961-70. During this period Bob won three consecutive gold medals at Australian Championships in the board event, while also achieving similar success in NSW Championships.

Bob represented Australia during the USA tour in 1965 and lent his vast surf sport knowledge as a referee and official.

Bob also actively participated on coaching panels nationally and in NSW. Bob has received an Order of Australia medal for services to surf lifesaving and his local community in the Illawarra region.

Dean Mercer OAM

Dean Mercer OAM is one of Australia’s greatest and most recognised Ironmen who began his career in the Illawarra on the south coast of New South Wales.

As an Ironman, Dean won two Australian crowns, a record equalling five NSW Championships, two “Test of the Toughest” titles and the world Oceanman Series. Dean has also won numerous state, national and world titles in other surf lifesaving events and regularly represented Australia and NSW.

In his senior career which spanned 1984 through 1999, Dean compiled a surf lifesaving record almost without parallel. He represented Australia at an international level on four occasions, winning eight World Championship medals and won the only international Ironman series, ‘Oceanman’. As testament to his qualities as an athlete, in 1995 Dean held every international Ironman title available, winning the Australian, Japanese, South African and US national Ironman titles.

Dean won the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain “Test of the Toughest” Series on the only two occasions it was held and won 25 Australian Championship Medals, including eight gold.

James (Harvey) Stansell

James Stansell, widely known in the surf lifesaving community as “Harvey”, was a person before his time, fostering and delivering successful beach event competitions across all specialties and age groups. He laid the foundation for Cronulla SLSC’s success in the 1970’s and 80’s and his inspirational legacy continues today at the club.

This record can clearly be seen by the number of Australian Championships earned by Cronulla SLSC in the Beach area. Prior to the 1970s, only seven Australian Gold Medals were won in that discipline. Since then, the Beach section has won 58 Gold medals, closing in on the water area who have been Australian Champions on 79 occasions, helping the club’s tally to 183 Gold medals.

Friday 2 September 2022