Australian netball great Sharelle McMahon has hailed her immortalisation in bronze in the heart of Melbourne’s sporting precinct as important recognition for female athletes.
McMahon will be the fifth female athlete to have a statue erected in Victoria, joining Olympians Betty Cuthbert, Shirley Strickland and Nova Peris, and AFLW player Tayla Harris.
At the same time, there are 29 existing statues of male athletes in the state, as well as three of racehorses.
McMahon’s statue is to be erected under the Victorian government’s Celebrating Female Sporting Icons initiative and the Statues for Equality project – a global movement working to balance gender and racial representation in public statues.
“It’s a hugely important thing for female athletes to be recognised in many different ways and this is a great way to do it,” McMahon said. “I was really shocked when I heard the numbers and what that lack of balance was between the genders.
“Having a statue that’s a really permanent visualisation of [recognition for female athletes] is something that many people can look up to and appreciate and love for many years to come hopefully.”
McMahon’s decorated career spanned 15 years, including two Commonwealth Games gold medals and two World Cup championships. A 12-time captain of Australia, she played more than 200 national league games for six premierships with the Melbourne Vixens and predecessor club Melbourne Phoenix.
McMahon was also the first athlete from a team sport to carry the Australian flag at a Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, at Delhi 2010. The Sport Australia Hall of Fame member now works as Cricket Victoria’s head of female cricket.
McMahon’s statue will be erected outside John Cain Arena, facing Olympic Boulevard. “This stadium for me holds so many amazing memories,” she said. “For fans to be walking past a statue of me is still a bit unbelievable.
“I think what I’d like them to say is that I was a really proud Victorian and I represented my club with immense passion, and my country with immense passion, and that I was fun to watch play.
“I do believe it’s about more than just me as an individual and a representation of me. It’s a representation of our sport and a celebration of our sport and the amazing people that have had such a great influence in many different ways.”