Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

Ku-ring-gai Electorate Female Athletes

Cricket Ball

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS ( Ku-ring-gai ) ( 21:00 :07 ): Without question, 2017 has been a breakthrough year for Australian female athletes. For several decades our women tennis players, swimmers, track and field stars and golfers have shared the limelight with their male counterparts. Until recently female athletes in most team sports generally struggled to secure publicity and spectator support for their on-field exploits let alone a commensurate remuneration. This has now changed. Women athletes are now superstars in their own right. They are not only entertaining crowds and becoming positive role models for young girls but also earning great respect for their technical abilities in sports that were previously viewed as the domain of men.

I speak today about three Ku-ring-gai women who are excelling in their chosen sports. It is impossible to have a conversation about women's sport in Australia without including Ellyse Perry, who is undisputedly the best all-round female cricketer in the world. Ellyse is the product of a Ku-ring-gai family. She was born in 1990 at the San and educated at Pymble Ladies' College. Ellyse received unfailing support from her mother and father and also from our outstanding local community sporting clubs. Two weeks ago she scored 213 not out against England at North Sydney Oval. Not only is it the highest score ever by an Australian female cricketer, but also one that virtually guaranteed that Australia would retain the Ashes—which it ultimately did. She also took three wickets opening the bowling in that match.

In Test matches Ellyse averages over 61 with the bat and has taken 30 wickets at the miserly average of 17.33, while her performances for the One Day International team have yielded 125 wickets at 25.42 and a batting average of just over 50. Few cricketers—men or women—in the history of the game have approached that standard of excellence, and perhaps her best is yet to come. Three weeks after her debut in the Australian cricket team, Ellyse was also remarkably selected for the Australian football team at the age of 16. She scored a memorable goal at the 2011 World Cup finals against Sweden and played 18 matches for the Matildas before cricket became her abiding focus. She is still the only woman to have played at both the cricket and football World Cups. Her growing legion of fans admire her relaxed media presence, the humble manner in which she accepts her success, and the way she enjoys the achievements of others as much as her own.

Turramurra's Amy Pejkovic is only 24 but she has been performing as a high jumper on the world stage since 2009 when, representing Australia at the World Youth Championships in Athletics in Italy, she cleared 1.85 metres and placed second. She started high jumping in primary school at the age of 10 and continued through her years as a student at St Leo's Catholic College in Wahroonga. Sadly, the dream of competing at the London Olympic Games in 2012 vanished when Amy received the shocking news that she had a brain tumour, prompting an emergency operation and an extended period away from athletics. Thankfully, Amy enjoyed a full recovery and the Olympics are back on her agenda. Her goal is to compete in the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020. Before that, an important stepping stone is the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next year. Amy is not only a high jumper. She is the newly appointed Champion sportswear ambassador and Chic Management model. Sporting her signature smile, she has featured in campaigns with well-known brands such as Stella McCartney, Adidas, Paspaley Pearls and David Jones. She is as comfortable in front of the camera as she is approaching the bar. Amy is a firm believer in the philosophy that hard work pays off and that success is the result of a positive attitude.

Just a few days ago, Wahroonga boxer Kaye Scott qualified for her second Commonwealth Games and this time she is determined to win a gold medal. Kaye had been training as a boxer for only 3½ years when she travelled to Glasgow for the 2014 Commonwealth Games as captain of the Australian boxing team. She narrowly missed a medal, losing in the quarterfinals. Since then, she has become Australia's most successful amateur boxer at a World Championships, snaring the Light Heavyweight silver medal in Kazakhstan in 2016. Kaye has since dropped two weight divisions, winning the Welterweight gold medal at the 2017 XII Silesian Boxing Women's Championships and has remained unbeaten for three months. She is known for her fierce determination which—together with her powerful punching, quick feet and good strategic brain—makes her a formidable opponent.

More women now engage in combat sports, both as a cardio workout and to learn how to defend themselves. Kaye trains at the brand new state-of-the-art Police Citizens Youth Clubs in Waitara, which has excellent boxing facilities that will enable her to undertake the optimum preparation for the Games. I am looking forward to watching Kaye go for gold next April and enhance her reputation as one of Ku-ring-gai's sporting greats. Ku-ring-gai is immensely proud of these three magnificent women and inspiring standard-bearers for women's sport, and we have much to look forward to with trailblazers like these three women.