10 of CQ’s sporting success stories from 2020
The emergence of COVID-19 made 2020 a year like no other.
The pandemic forced the suspension and, in many cases, the cancellation of some of sport’s regular seasons and top-line events.
Despite the upheaval, Central Queensland athletes and teams still made their mark in a variety of codes.
There were countless achievements, too many to list, but today we present a snapshot of some of the region’s headline-grabbing performances.
JESS JONASSEN (cricket)
Rockhampton all-rounder Jess Jonassen played an integral part in Australia’s commanding win in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final in March.
While not required to bat, she finished with 3-20 from her four overs and took a spectacular catch as the Aussies cruised to an 85-run win over India.
The game at the MCG was played in front of 86,174 fans, which set a new Australian record for attendance at a women’s sporting event.
The victorious Aussies also got to celebrate on stage with international star Katy Perry, who headlined the game-day entertainment.
YEPPOON SWANS (Aussie rules)
The Yeppoon Swans forged a piece of sporting history on their way to a record sixth straight AFL Capricornia flag in October.
The champion outfit beat BITS by 61 points in the grand final.
That victory, their 89th in a row, delivered them the record for the most consecutive wins in Aussie rules history.
The previous record of 88 was held by South Australia’s Heathfield-Aldgate, who dominated in the 1970s.
Swans coach Mark Wallin, who had helped mastermind the record run, announced his retirement several weeks later.
HARRY GRANT (rugby league)
It was a year to remember for Yeppoon’s Harry Grant.
He announced his arrival on the NRL scene in Round 3, scoring on debut for the Wests Tigers, who he joined on an historic player loan deal with the Melbourne Storm.
His stellar season was recognised with an awards trifecta – he won the Tigers’ Rookie of the Year, the RLPA Rookie of the Year and the Dally M Rookie of the Year.
But the best was yet to come for the 22-year-old when he delivered a memorable debut for the Queensland Maroons in the State of Origin series decider in November.
His performance wowed fans and league legends alike, with many declaring he would be a fixture in the Maroons No.9 jersey for the next decade.
AARON KLEIER (bull riding)
Aaron Kleier rode his way into the national record books in November.
The Clermont cowboy became the first bull rider to win three consecutive PBR Australia championships.
The 22-year-old secured it with his 3-for-5 effort in the PBR Australia Monster Energy Tour grand finals at the Townsville Entertainment Centre.
“It means a lot to me because I like to stay consistent, trying to ride every bull,” Kleier said after his incredible performance.
“To win three in a row shows that I’ve stayed consistent over the years.”
CAMERON MUNSTER (rugby league)
Rockhampton’s Cameron Munster enjoyed what was undoubtedly one of the best years of his rugby league career.
The superstar five-eighth won his second NRL premiership with the Melbourne Storm, who scored a 26-20 win over the Penrith Panthers in the grand final in October.
He then stamped his authority on the State of Origin series.
He was instrumental in the Queensland Maroons series victory, putting on a master class in the decider at Suncorp Stadium in November.
Such was his influence that, despite missing 78 minutes of Game II, he was still awarded the Wally Lewis Medal for player of the series.
ANNA MEARES (Commonwealth Games appointment)
Central Queensland’s cycling sensation Anna Meares was in July named as a member of the Australian Team Executive for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The appointment means she will be involved in six Commonwealth Games, having been a competitor at four and an ambassador at the 2018 edition on the Gold Coast.
Blackwater-born Meares is one of the most successful Australian athletes in any sport, having won eight Commonwealth Games medals (five of them gold), 11 world titles and two Olympic gold medals.
RUSSIAN CAMELOT (horse racing)
It was a dream come true for a group of Central Queensland owners whose horse started in the Melbourne Cup in November.
Dan and Rae Fletcher, Andrew and Angela Schwarz, Bruce and Trudy Roberts, Andrew Thomas and Yasmine Johnson, Terry and Catherine Piggott and Peter and Janine Mahady are part of the Queensland Cup Colts syndicate, which has a 10 per cent share in Russian Camelot.
The striking three-year-old colt had an amazing spring campaign before securing a start in the Cup.
Russian Camelot finished a gallant eighth in the race, which was won by Twilight Payment.
THE CATHEDRAL COLLEGE (touch)
The Cathedral College continued its good form at the hotly contested Queensland All Schools touch tournament in Brisbane.
It was crowned champion school for the second year running, even though it fielded just three teams at the event, which is recognised as the world’s largest touch football tournament for secondary schools.
TCC’s under-18 boys won their division for the first time after they beat Coombabah State High 7-2 in the grand final.
Their under-18 girls and under-15 girls were runners-up in their respective divisions.
TAMIKA UPTON (rugby league)
Tamika Upton continued to turn heads, starring at every level in the women’s rugby league ranks.
The 23-year-old was named best player in the Holcim Cup after her season with the Souths Logan Magpies.
She then claimed her second NRLW premiership with the Brisbane Broncos, scoring the opening try in the team’s 20-10 grand final win over the Sydney Roosters.
The gun fullback starred in her Origin debut, scoring two tries for the Maroons and running 239m, her performance earning her Players’ Player honours.
Upton rounded out her stellar year with selection in the Jillaroos Merit Squad.
ROCKHAMPTON WOLVERINES (gridiron)
The Rockhampton Wolverines burst onto the gridiron scene in 2020.
They were crowned the Reef Bowl champions after playing their first season in the North Queensland Gridiron League.
There were jubilant scenes at Rockhampton’s Browne Park in March when they scored a 26-nil win over the Cairns Falcons in the grand final in front of 1000 vocal fans.
Defensive captain Jacob Borich, who was named the grand final MVP, said the memorable victory was “probably one of the best feelings going”.