Australia’s history-making golden girls

McKinnisCBT98 (Netball VIC)

Melbourne Vixens coach Simone McKinnis tasted ANZ Championship success in her second season in charge, but she also had a decorated international playing career across 63 Tests for Australia.

While netball was a Commonwealth Games exhibition sport at Auckland 1990, it was a full medal sport eight years later in Kuala Lumpur.

The Australian team featured some of this country’s greatest netball talent including Sharelle McMahon, Vicki Wilson, Liz Ellis and current Netball Australia board member Kathryn Harby-Williams.

“It was super exciting, I remember it being a huge deal for us all,” McKinnis said.

“Some of us had been involved in the Commonwealth Games as a demonstration but to be going in as a full medal sport and part of the Australian contingent was super exciting.”

McKinnis noted the significant changes from playing during a regular international Test series or Netball World Cup.

“When its World Champs or a normal international series, you’re living together (as a team) at (the) hotel but when you part of the Commonwealth Games it’s part of a much bigger picture,” McKinnis said.

“Living in a village, you’ve got lots different sports and athletes around you, our schedule for training and matches were quite different.”

One of her greatest memories from the athlete’s village in Kuala Lumpur was being in the same place as a cricketing legend.

“I think it was a really unique opportunity to see some people that you may have just seen on TV; (Sir) Viv Richards was there; I remember that,“ she recalls.

“To be able to see some of the world’s best sports people in that one environment was just always exciting.

“We mixed a lot with some of the other Australian teams as well; the cricket team hosted various events throughout the games.”

Australia’s 42-39 gold medal match win over New Zealand was the last time McKinnis set foot on court as a player.

That gold medal triumph is one of the most treasured memories across a decorated career.

“It was pretty much my last game for Australia and I wanted to be part of that Commonwealth Games,” said McKinnis.

“For me, it was very special because it was something that I wanted to achieve personally knowing that I was going to be retiring and to do that with a win was one of my favourite memories.”

Australia kicks off its 2014 Commonwealth Games campaign in Glasgow on Thursday against Wales at 10.30pm (AEST). Follow the Australian Netball Team during the Commonwealth Games online on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aussiediamonds or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aussiediamonds