Gympie's 12 all-time greatest sporting exports
Gympie has a calibre of talented athletes in the region but these are our top 12 greatest exports.
#12. Noah Lane, surfing
LANE was born and bred in Rainbow Beach and has been involved in competitive surfing since he was 11 years old.
His career started to take off at the age of 19, when he surfed at the Australian Pro Junior title in South Australia 2010.
He went from ninth position to fifth overall, one spot away from selection for the World Junior Pro tour.
Lane cemented a top-10 ranking in 2009 in the ASP Australasia Pro Junior rating after collecting second at the Chill Pro Junior in Western Australia. A year later he claimed his Queensland Championship Circuit crown, to go on and surf the Quiksilver Pro trials.
Lane now lives and surfs in Ireland, where he won the Magicseaweed's The Winter Session, where he took home a $20,000 cash prize.
From surfing Australian competitions alongside the likes of Stu Kennedy and Owen Wright, Lane is a legend of the surfing community and has put our region on the world stage.
#11 Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, rugby league
14 games in the Intrust Super Cup for the Easts Tigers and Sunshine Coast Falcons.
He is on the cusp of an NRL debut Fa'asuamaleaui is making great strides towards that dream.
Born in Orange, the second-rower made his debut with the junior Kangaroos, barging his way over the try line to score twice.
The 18-year-old made a name for himself in Widgee and Gympie before being signed up with Melbourne Storm in May 2017.
He has risen through the ranks this year not only representing his country but his state in the under-18s and under 20s Queensland sides.
"Growing up I dreamt of playing at Suncorp. Everyone wants to play for the Maroons and run onto the field in front of your home crowd.”
With a strong build and hard running game, he is hard to stop when he starts charging.
#10 Jimmy Downey, football
HE IS arguably one of the region's best athletic exports, having played at the elite level in Australian soccer.
Just as talented on the running track as on the football field, Downey proved coming from a regional town was no limitation to achieving your dreams.
During his prime, he played for Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix in the A-League, as well as stints in Europe before a severe knee injury derailed his plans of making it in one of the world's best leagues.
While not being directly involved in the game any more, the Lions and Columbia junior said it was the skills and attributes he developed in Gympie that had allowed him to mix it with the game's elite.
"Playing in a men's competition at such a young age definitely helped my transition into representative and then professional football,” he said.
Now retired due to injury, Downey is in America developing an app for officials of the game.
#9 Carlin Anderson, rugby league
11 Queensland Intrust Super Cup games, five tries and 13 goals.
The young Gympie flyer is on the cusp of an NRL debut in the Cowboys halves if he can steer clear of injury.
He first came to national attention three-years ago when he helped the Ipswich Jets to the 2015 Queensland Cup and NRL State Championship titles.
That stellar season earned him an NRL contract with the Brisbane Broncos in 2016.
A serious jaw and facial injury sidelined him for an extended period and he didn't crack the NRL.
North Queensland Cowboys feeder team the Townsville Blackhawks offered Anderson a career last year and he had a stellar season. A hand injury robbed the fullback of majority of his maiden season with the Cowboys.
"This is my third major setback but hopefully I can come back bigger and better.”
Anderson lives in Townsville and is off contract at the end of the season.
#8 Charlie Dann, golf
GOLFER Charlie Dann has turned pro and finished 19th at the Australasian PGA qualifying school.
Dann currently lives on the Sunshine Coast is continuing his preparations for his first tournament as a pro in February the Victorian open.
The Gympie product played as an amateur at the Australian Open last year and despite not getting to the final stage Dann took plenty away from the tournament.
"My game does not feel far from where I need to be and I felt like I belonged there. In golf, if you don't play well you are still learning things every time,” he said.
The former James Nash Student is touted as one of the best amateur golfers but his reach extends beyond golf. He has a goal to help juniors on a permanent basis.
"I have been interacting with juniors at my club at Pelican Waters and I have given some equipment and other things I can give away to them,” he said.
He may not be able to get through because of his ranking.
#7 Steven Elliott, basketball
HIS Tokyo 2020 Paralympics dream is well and truly alive.
The basketball star was selected in the Australian Rollers team and won bronze at the IWBF World Championships in Germany this year.
A natural athlete all his life, with an aptitude for rugby and running, Elliott didn't let the diagnosis of a debilitating neurological condition at age 13 stop him.
As an eager athlete and rugby league player in his first year of high school at James Nash, Elliott was looking forward to playing his first game of junior league with the Gympie Devils.
But with those plans halted, he shifted his focus to what he could do, rather than what he couldn't. And so began Elliott's association with wheelchair basketball.
In 2009, Elliott competed for six days in the Australian Youth Paralympic Games and he was 14 when he became a member of the Queensland squad.
He moved to the Sunshine Coast to further his basketball dream and is one of the best para-athletes in the country.
#6 Barry McTaggart, rugby league
HE WAS the hardworking prop from Gympie when he debuted with Sydney's Balmain Tigers in 1969.
That same year, McTaggart was part of the side that secured an unthinkable grand final win, 11-6, over favourites the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
The Gympie product got a start in the Tigers' 17-man squad after rugby league Immortal Arthur Beetson was suspended.
McTaggart was rewarded for his efforts the following year when he went to to England with Australia's World Cup squad.
The tall prop made his international debut for the Kangaroos in a 17-15 loss to France in the third round of the competition and was injured in the match.
He also appeared in three minor matches during that tour - against St Helens, France (in a non-Test match) and France B.
McTaggart played with Balmain from 1969-72 and scored three tries during his career.
He retired in 1973. The Gympie legend has a life membership with the Gympie Wanderers.
#5 Lachlan and Jessy Keeffe, Aussie Rules
Lachlan: 48 career games (40 Collingwood, 8 GWS Giants), 8 goals.
Jessy: Member of Brisbane Lions AFL squad, yet to debut.
Coming in at No.5 is one of the Gympie region's highest achieving brother-sister sporting duos.
Lachlan, 28, made his debut for Collingwood in 2011 and went on to play 40 games for the club, mostly as a key defender. He was delisted by the Magpies after the 2017 season and subsequently signed for the Giants, playing eight games last year. He is off-contract at the end of this season.
Jessy, 22, was selected 48th overall by the Lions in the 2017 AFLW draft. She maintains a spot in the squad, but is yet to make her official playing debut.
At 186cm, Jessy will be looking to have a big impact in the ruck for the Lions this season.
#4 Arlene Blencowe, MMA
THE Gympie mixed martial artist and former boxer is the sixth top female MMA featherweight fighter in Australia.
Having begun her boxing career in 2012, Arlene "Angerfist” Blencowe compiled a record of four wins and five losses.
She started her MMA career in April 2013 and has a record of 11 wins and seven losses.
The featherweight is from Amamoor but lives in Sydney.
Her last MMA fight was in September last year.
She beat Amber Leibrock at Bellator 206 in San Jose in an impressive victory.
Blencoe is known for close contests and seven of her 17 fights have gone to decision.
Five of her career wins have come by way of knockout, and four of her losses through submission.
"It's always good seeing photos of me throwing them and copping them too,” she said.
Her impressive career sees her come in at fourth as one of our greatest sporting heroes.
#3 David Mawhinney, rodeo
GYMPIE'S real-life cowboy, David Mawhinney was a champion bull rider in his time and won three world titles.
He put the region on the rodeo map, competing at the National Senior Pro Rodeo Association World finals in Las Vegas three years ago and winning the over-40 World Champion All Around Cowboy, World Champion Steer Wrestler and World Champion Bull Rider titles.
He was also runner-up in the over-40 Saddle Bronc world championship, which was won by Gary Lee Alger of the US.
Mawhinney had previously won National Rodeo Association of Australia all round titles in 2012 and 2014.
"It felt really good to achieve these titles (in the US) after a big decision to spend the six weeks needed overseas to qualify,” he said.
It is through these achievements that Mawhinney earns a spot in the Top Ten of The Gympie Times' 30 Greatest Sporting Heroes.
#2 Christopher Scott, cyclist
PARALYMPIAN Chris Scott OAM was born in Gympie, with cerebral palsy, before his family moved to Brisbane when he was two years old.
At age eight he was refused a place on a football team because he could not kick the ball with his right foot as well as his left.
He represented Australia at six consecutive Paralympic games games from 1988-2008 in three disciplines - seven-a-side football, athletics and cycling.
Scott won 10 medals in cycling, including six gold and set two world records.
He received the Order of Australia Medal in 2000, captained the Australian Paralympic team in 2004 and was the Australian Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability in 2005. He was also the Australian Disabled Cyclist of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008. In 2015, Scott was inducted into the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame.
It is through this list of achievements that he finds himself second on the list.
#1 Glen Boss, horse racing
THE Australian jockey best known for riding Makybe Diva to victory in three consecutive Melbourne Cups - in 2003, 2004 and 2005 - is a Gympie legend.
The Caboolture-born star was taken to the Gympie races at age 15 by his grandparents and left school a week later to become an apprentice jockey in Gympie.
While in Gympie, Glen Boss won 60 races in less than 10 months, which prompted a move to the Gold Coast.
In 2005, Makybe Diva became the second Melbourne Cup winner to carry 58kg or more, since 1972.
The British-born mare failed to attract a bid at auction and was brought to Australia by owner Tony Santic.
During her racing career, Makybe Diva won 15 of her 36 races and $14.5 million in prize money.
Still working as a jockey in Australia today, Boss has ridden more than 1800 winners including more than 80 at Group 1 level. He is deservedly in top spot as Gympie's greatest export.