Ballarat basketball legend Robyn Maher is to be inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
She will become only the second female basketballer to receive the accolade at the 34th Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala Dinner on Thursday.
She joins players Phil Smyth (1997), Michele Timms (2003), Andrew Gaze (2005), Luc Longley and Troy Sachs (2017), and coach Lindsay Gaze (1989) as the sport’s representatives in the Hall of Fame.
“I’m just unbelievably happy,” Maher (nee Gull) said. “It’s a great honour and a privilege.”
Maher grew up and began her basketball career in Ballarat. The Ballarat Rush most valuable player award is named in her honour.
Maher’s international playing career lasted almost two decades – playing a record 374 games for Australia, including 174 as captain.
She won a Olympic bronze medal in 1996 and a world championship bronze in 1998 and was Australia’s international player of the year in 1988, 1990 and 1991.
“I’ll never forget that moment we stood as a team up on that podium in Atlanta (at the 1996 Olympics),” Maher said.
“When I think of everybody who was a part of that team, we knew that we were onto something great and knew that we’d achieved something really special for basketball.”
Maher began he domestic career with Melbourne Telstars in the Women’s National Basketball League in 1981 and featured in 13 grand finals for 10 championships – six in seven years with Nunawading Spectres, two with Sydney Flames and one each with Hobart Islanders and Perth Breakers.
She was the competition’s mvp in 1983 and 1987, was named in the all-star five in 1988 and was awarded defensive player of the year in 1992 and 1994. Maher finished among the WNBL’s all-time top 10 scorers and finished her career in 1999.
For a number of years at both domestic and national level, she was coached by her husband Tom Maher.
“It was great. I consider Tom to be the best coach I’ve ever had, and a lot of people would say that as well.
“To come home and talk about the game and how we can improve was great and we have the greatest respect for each other, so it was fun times.”
Sport Australia Hall of Fame selection committee chairman Rob de Castella says it was the leadership and guidance Maher showed throughout her long and distinguished career that ensured she would be inducted.
“At both national and international levels, Robyn has dominated.
“Her contribution to basketball and our nation is outstanding has been an inspiration and a game winner, on and off the court. Maher’s induction into the hall of fame certainly highlights how valuable her contribution was.