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From Cahill to Warne: These are our favourite Australian sports stars of the last 25 years

With the Wallabies in town, and our International Rules lads down under, we’ve been thinking about some old favourites.

LIKE ALL GREAT articles, this one started with a question in TheScore.ie office: who is your favourite Australian sports star?

The question was favourite rather than best so those who usually top the all-time lists down under — greats such as Don Bradman, Margaret Court and Dawn Fraser — didn’t get much of a look in.

As we drew up the list, we also noticed a very strong bias towards those who excelled in the last 25 years.

Forgive us if we’ve missed your favourite or got things horribly upside down. Let us know in the comments section.

9. Tim Cahill

Partly included because of some strong lobbying by TheScore.ie‘s Everton supporters club.

Partly included because the only other football options were Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell.

Mainly included for this:

Source: Tech-Flo/YouTube

8. Sally Pearson

Things haven’t always been straightforward for Sally Pearson but she won plenty of fans during a remarkable 2012 season which culminated with her adding the Olympic 100m hurdles title to her world title. Not only that, but she set an Olympic record in the pouring rain that night.

That reaction says it all.

7. Adam Scott

Under slightly different circumstances, we’d be opening this sentence with the words “Six-time Major winner Adam Scott.” The 2013 Masters is still his only triumph but over the last four seasons, he has five top-five finishes, and you can’t help but feel that more will follow.

Which is fine by us because he’s widely-regarded as a sound, sound bloke.

Source: Charlie Riedel

6. Pat Rafter

Lleyton Hewitt had a slightly more successful career than Rafter — both were world number one, both won two Grand Slam singles titles, but Hewitt made more in career earnings — but you have to balance that out with the fact that Hewitt was a bit of a brat.

Rafter gets the nod in particular for his two epic Wimbledon semi–final wins over Andre Agassi in 2000 and 2001.

Source: arvind13/YouTube

5. Ian Thorpe

Three golds and two silvers at his home Olympics in Sydney; two golds, a silver and a bronze in Athens four years later.

Thorpe never quite reached the levels of dominance shown by Spitz and Phelps but he smashed world records and was rightly acclaimed as Australian’s golden boy at the start of the millennium.

4. Cathy Freeman

Twice the world champion over 400 metres, Cathy Freeman provided one of the iconic moments of the Sydney 2000 Olympics when she stretched away to win gold, and then celebrated with both the Australian and Aboriginal flags on her victory laps.

3. George Gregan

Players like Campese and Eales typically get preference on the list of Australian rugby’s all-time greats but for anyone who grew up watching rugby in the late 1990s / early 2000s, Gregan was the boss.

The most-capped player in rugby union history until he was overtaken last summer. Still, second to BOD is not to be sniffed at.

How about this?

Source: ihavenopantson/YouTube

2. Greg Norman

Don’t be fooled by the fact that he only won two Majors. Australia’s best ever golfer spent a remarkable 331 weeks as world number one.

Bonus points for the superb nickname The Great White Shark.

Source: EMPICS Sport

1. Shane Warne

The best bowler of all time? Warne wasn’t a golden boy by any means but he was one of cricket’s most talented, colourful characters for the guts of 15 years.

Wherever he went, you could be sure a story or two would follow.

Dat spin tho.

Source: Ayush Saxena/YouTube

Who have we missed? Let us know in the comments >

First published Wednesday at 20.57

Irish International Rules team hit the bright lights of Perth before Saturday’s test

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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