Johnathan Thurston. .Picture: Jonathan Ng
Johnathan Thurston. .Picture: Jonathan Ng

Fierce contest to rank our sporting royalty

FROM the magnificent Maroons' triumphs at Suncorp Stadium to the little victories on the dusty ovals of outback Queensland; from the great run chases at the Gabba to tennis matches on red dirt courts in the bush; from world records in suburban swimming pools to races that stopped a nation, Queensland has always punched above its weight when it comes to producing sporting talent and Queenslanders have always been the most passionate sports fans in the world.

100 greatest Qld athletes: 100-81

We've had so many great champions to cheer, from the rugby league heroes Tom Gorman and Duncan Thompson in the 1920s to the greats of today, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater.

Susie O’Neill
Susie O’Neill

We've had swimming sensations such as Susie O'Neill and Kieren Perkins and league legends such as Artie Beetson and Wally Lewis who built a foundation for Origin pride. Norma Croker, Glynis Nunn and Cathy Freeman were the best of the best on the biggest stage in the world, the Olympic Games.

Artie Beetson
Artie Beetson

We've had our rugby union stars Paul McLean to John Eales and Michael Lynagh and cricketers who shook up the world, from the phenomenal fast bowling of Jeff Thomson to the artistry of Greg Chappell, from the fighting pride of Allan Border to the knockabout joy of Wally Grout. We've cheered Jeff Horn as he survived the school bullies to fight before half a billion people, and we've stood on our feet to applaud the coal miner's daughter Anna Meares powering through one obstacle after another and Sally Pearson leaping every hurdle put in her way.

Cathy Freeman
Cathy Freeman

Queensland embraces our sports stars and revels in the array of talent in our state. We've watched them through their highs and lows, roared ourselves hoarse with one Firebirds victory after another, driven with Craig Lowndes and Dick Johnson on white knuckle rides around Mount Panorama and cried a river at the tragic demise of the sprinter Hec Hogan.

John Eales
John Eales

The Courier-Mail ,Sunday Mail and News Regional have been first with the biggest news in Queensland sport from the very first issue of this newspaper, which covered the New Farm races in the pages of what was then The Moreton Bay Courier.

Allan Border
Allan Border

Now The Courier-Mail ,The Sunday Mail and News Regional are presenting readers with our list of the 100 Greatest Sports Stars to have represented Queensland.

Some were born here, others made the Sunshine State their home. All gave their fans many reasons to cheer.

Sally Pearson
Sally Pearson

It is a fascinating exercise to compare all our stars and we hope you enjoy and debate the list as it rolls out over the days ahead. We know that our list of the 100 Greatest will ignite debate over who is Queensland's No. 1 sportsperson of all time, but our list is also a celebration of the remarkable achievements of Queenslanders on the sporting stage.

Some legendary Maroon sports stars were relegated to the bench and not everyone will be happy with our list.

The race signalled an end to full-time driving for Craig Lowndes.
The race signalled an end to full-time driving for Craig Lowndes.

We expect that.

The judges selecting Queensland's greatest were award-winning journalist, author and member of the Australian Boxing Hall of Fame Grantlee Kieza, the doyen of Queensland sports writing (and broadcasting) Robert Craddock, QSport chief executive Peter Cummiskey, three-time Olympic gold medallist Tracy Stockwell, and trailblazing sports journalist Margie McDonald.

Jeff Horn
Jeff Horn

They found it a tough task simply because Queensland has produced so many world-beaters. But they chose their 100 based on the impact each sports star had on Queensland and their standing against the best in the world.

You might not agree with the choices of our experts but that's one of the great things about following sport ­in Queensland - the loyalty and passion it creates in us all.

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