BIG HONOUR: Pierre de Coubertin award winner Zac Willis.
BIG HONOUR: Pierre de Coubertin award winner Zac Willis. Craig Warhurst

Good sport Zac rewarded

VICTORY College student Zac Willis joined an elite group of sportspeople recently, as a recipient of the Pierre de Coubertin award.

Each year, Australian secondary schools are invited to nominate one student from year 11 or 12 for the award, which recognises students who demonstrate values consistent with the Olympic movement through their participation in sport.

The award is in honour of de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, who once said "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part".

"It was a shock when Victory told me I was nominated, but I was very honoured," Willis said.

"It's a pretty prestigious award, so to win it means a lot."

After being nominated, Willis still had to apply for the award by submitting a written piece which illustrated his understanding of the Olympic movement, incorporating this year's theme of "Youth and the Future of Olympism in the digital world".

Willis was successful in his application, and was invited to attend the official presentation ceremony in Brisbane this month.

As part of the celebration day, Willis and his fellow recipients attended a leadership workshop featuring Olympians Nat Cook, Kim Cooper and Lara Davenport sharing their experiences, and concluding with a panel of five Summer and Winter Olympians prior to the formal awards ceremony.

Special guest Corporal Daniel Keighran, a Victoria Cross recipient in 2012 and himself a 2000 Pierre De Coubertin winner, presented Willis with his certificate and Olympic pin.

"The award ceremony was a great experience, and hearing from Olympians about what it takes to achieve their level of success was pretty inspirational," Willis said.

Former winners of the award include dual Olympian pole vaulter Alana Boyd, 2012 Olympic silver medallists Kim Crow, Jessica Fox and Nina Curtis, and Youth Olympians Luke Noblett, Annalese Smith and Clair Dennerley.

Willis is a regular of the local Aussie Rules scene, having played eight matches for the senior Gympie Cats side this season, and also plays cricket and rugby and is a keen athlete.