2019 in review: Heroes, recor... | Australian Olympic Committee

2019 in review: Heroes, record breakers and history makers

Author imageAOC20 Dec 2019
2019 wrap up header

Over the last 12 months Australia has seen the unearthing of new world number ones, record-breakers and history makers.

The list of Aussie athletes who have dominated in their sport is long, but we have compiled a list of some of the year's most exciting achievements across Olympic sports.

World Number Ones

Ash Barty

The 23-year-old from Ipswich had a stellar 2019. After her much talked about transition from tennis-to-cricket-to-tennis, she started the year as world no. 15 (up from no. 325 in 2017).

Just three months into the year, she cracked the top 10 and it wasn't long before Barty skyrocketed to the top.

The humble Queenslander  claimed Australia's first WTA title in 43 years, which was one of four titles she won in 2019 along with the WTA Player of the Year Award.

Closer to home, Barty became the Newcombe Medal winner for the third consecutive year along with picking up three awards at the AIS Sport Performance Awards, Female Athlete of the Year, Sport Personality of the Year and Sporting Moment of the Year.

Barty held on to her world no.1 ranking, closing out 2019 on top and in great stead for Tokyo 2020.

Scotty James

Australia's snowboard king and three-time World Champion  Scotty James wrapped up 2019 with his eighth consecutive victory of the season.

Last year, the Olympic bronze medallist went unbeaten for the entire season and is so far on track to do the same across 2019/20.


Thanks China 😁🇨🇳🥊

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The triple Olympian took out several awards this year, including the Australian Institute of Sport's Male Athlete of the Year, Australian Ski and Snowboard's Athlete of the Year and the Victorian Institute of Sport's highest honour - the VIS Award of Excellence.

Jess Fox

Jess Fox maintained her title of paddle 'GOAT' extending her trophy cabinet to 10 World Championship medals, including seven gold and seven overall World Cup titles.

It was in 2018 that she usurped both her parents from the throne when she became the world's most successful paddler.

In November, Fox was named in the Tokyo 2020 Australian Olympic Team, which will be her third Olympic Games, not to mention the first gender-equal Games for Canoe Slalom.

The 25-year-old will contest the K1 (kayak) following her K1 silver at London 2012 and bronze at Rio 2016, and C1 (canoe) as the event makes its Olympic debut for female competitors.


The Australian Men's Hockey Team also finished the year on top of the FIH Premier Pro League, while both the Kookaburras and the Hockeyroos qualified for Tokyo 2020.

History Makers

Sam Kerr

As a whole, 2019 was a big one for the Matildas. On top of some great results, the Australian Women's National Football Team led the way towards pay parity, broke crowd attendance records and put together a bid to host the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, but captain Sam Kerr also made waves in her own right.

This year, Kerr made history for Australia at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, where she became the first Aussie, male or female, to ever score a hat-trick in a football World Cup.

Post-world cup, the National Team skipper and all-time leading goal scorer across both the Australian W-League and American NWSL had accolades falling at her feet.

Kerr was again shortlisted for the Ballon D'or, after making history the year prior when she became the first Australian, male or female to be shortlisted for the prestigious award.

She was also named number one in the Top 100 Best Female Footballers in the World by The Guardian.

On top of her groundbreaking new signing with football juggernauts, Chelsea FC, Kerr and the Matildas' next biggest challenge will be the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualifiers, due to take place in February 2020.

Stephanie Gilmore

Surfer Stephanie Gilmore made history taking out her 31st Championship Tour title along with provisionally qualifying for Tokyo 2020 alongside teammates, Sally Fitzgibbons and Owen Wright.

Australia can look forward to seeing surfing make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.

Rohan Dennis

In September, Rohan Dennis claimed back-to-back Individual Time Trial World Championships.

The 29-year-old dominated the 54-kilometre individual race against the clock from start to finish, taking the world champion’s rainbow jersey by more than one minute.

Tia-Clair Toomey

For the third consecutive year, Rio 2016 weightlifter Tia-Clair Toomey was crowned the "Fittest Woman on Earth" claiming three Crossfit titles across 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Toomey is the first woman to ever achieve the feat.

Aussie Boomers

The Australian Men's Basketball Team caused a massive international upset, taking down balling juggernauts the USA, the American's first loss in 13 years and 78 games.

The USA had seemed untouchable for the Aussie men throughout history, that was until they broke their massive unbeaten run with a 98-94 victory.

The Boomers also bounced their way into Tokyo 2020, finishing with an undefeated run at the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

Jill Colebourn

Biathlete Jillian Colebourn became the first woman in over two decades to qualify for and compete at a biathlon World Cup.

She finished within the top 40 for the first time in her career and achieved her highest-ever ranking points.

World Champions and Record Breakers

Ariarne Titmus

Young-gun Titmus stunned the world when she claimed gold ahead of 14-time World Champion, Katie Ledecky at the FINA World Championships in Korea, setting a new Commonwealth record (3:58.76) in the process.

The Aussie teen delivered Ledecky's first defeat since the London 2012 Olympics and became the first Australian woman to claim the 400m free world title since Tracey Wickham over 40 years prior.


The 470 team of  Will Ryan and Mat Belcher, along with Laser sailor Tom Burton,  were some of Australia's sailing World Champions in 2019.

Additionally, Ryan, Belcher and Laser World Championship runner-up Matt Wearn, were all selected for the Tokyo 2020 Australian Olympic Team.


Australia’s Women’s Four wrapped up a fantastic 2019 World Rowing Championships winning gold in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria while the Men’s Four finished sixth in their A-Final with both boats qualifying for Tokyo 2020.



In March, James Willet won Shotgun World Cup gold with a World Record-equalling score.

Willett didn’t miss a beat in qualification, shooting a perfect 125 targets and equalling the World Record before moving on to the final round and taking the gold at Acapulco.

Across the competition, Willet claimed two golds and a silver.


Kelsey-Lee Barber

Javelin thrower Kelsey-Lee Barber became Australia's ninth javelin World Champion since the first championship in 1983 and the first ever Australian to win gold in Javelin at a global competition.

Catriona Bisset

While competing at the London Diamond League, 25-year-old 800-metre runner, Catriona Bisset broke the 43-year-old Australian 800m record.

Running a PB of 1:58.78, she beat the old mark of 1:59.0 held by dual Olympian Charlene Rendina, set in January 1976.

Bisset spoke candidly about her mental health battles and the inner strength that led her to become an Aussie record-breaker.


Brandon Loupos

The kid who went from garbage tip, to top of the world, closed out his 2019 with his very first World Championship.

Loupos claimed the rainbow jersey ahead of Aussie teammate, Logan Martin in second place.