Last night, former Australian Diamonds captain, Sharelle McMahon was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame as an athlete member for netball.
McMahon was one of Australia’s most successful and enduring netballers with an international career spanning 14 years, representing Australia 118 times, with 12 games as captain.
McMahon won two gold and two silver medals across four Commonwealth Games appearances. She was the Australian flag bearer at the Delhi Games, part of three Netball World Cup teams with two wins and finished with 2,520 international goals at an average of just over 21 per Test.
McMahon began playing netball at the age of seven in a team coached by her mother Olive in the town of Bamawm, near Echuca. At sixteen she was invited by Sport Australia Hall of Fame member Marg Caldow to join the Victorian Institute of Sport, leaving her family and hometown in country Victoria to head to the big smoke.
“It was a pretty big thing for a country kid. It was a massive decision to go. When Marg rang I was away on an athletics camp with Debbie Flintoff-King. Marg spoke to mum about it and when I got home I just said, ‘no thanks – I don’t think I’ll be doing that.’” McMahon recalls.
“The whole thing, everything that was connected to it, was just a huge thing to do – very scary. But my parents, without pushing me, said why not give it a go and if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. Take the opportunity when it’s there.”
McMahon progressed quickly through Victorian junior netball ranks. She was selected for the Melbourne Phoenix in the national netball league, as well as the Australian Under 21 side in 1996. Two years later she was playing for Australia.
McMahon made her debut for the Australian Diamonds in 1998 and was the youngest member of the inaugural team that won the gold medal at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.
“When I first made the team I couldn’t believe it. When I was named in the squad it was amazing and I was at selection camp with my absolute heroes,” McMahon said.
She was a fixture in the goal circle for the Phoenix for 11 seasons, including four as captain. She also led the Vixens in their inaugural season in 2008, leading the team to their first championship win in 2009.
McMahon ruptured her Achilles tendon in an ANZ Championship game in 2011, forcing her withdrawal from the 2011 Netball World Cup. Considering her future, she briefly returned to the court before taking time off for the birth of son Xavier in 2012. She returned for one more season before retirement in 2013.
Since learning of her induction, McMahon has taken time to reflect on becoming just the sixth netballer to enter the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
“I couldn’t believe it really; I was so shocked. I did a little bit of research into the netballers in particular who were in the Hall of Fame and when I saw the company I’m keeping I was even more shocked.”
McMahon is a still a fixture courtside as a commentator and mentor and is thrilled with the current state of netball as it enters a whole new chapter with the new national league.
Images supplied by: Sport Australia Hall of Fame and Vicki Jones.