Ian Baker-Finch joins Australian Olympic Team
5 August 2014
RIO 2016: Australian Olympic Team Chef de Mission, Kitty Chiller has used the two-years-to Rio countdown to name the next crop of Team Leaders for the 2016 Olympic Games, headlined by golfing great and 1991 winner of The Open, Ian Baker-Finch.
Chiller added six sporting minds to the 10 Team Leaders selected in April. Coinciding with golf’s return to the Olympic program for the first time since 1904, Chiller only had one name in mind to lead the Australian golf contingent in Rio: Baker-Finch.
“Ian Baker-Finch is not only one of Australia’s best ever golfers, but he has always been a real role model off the course,” Chiller said. “He is the ideal choice to lead Australia back into the Olympic arena.”
Team Leaders are tasked with boosting Australian performance and building a strong Team culture in Rio in August 2016. As Chiller explains, their job is to “prepare their teams for success.”
“I have had several conversations with Ian in recent weeks and he is extremely committed to not only helping our golfers perform well, but also to ensure they experience everything that the Olympics have to offer.”
Baker-Finch won his first title at the New Zealand Open in 1983 at the age of 23. He won 17 titles on all four major tours before retiring in 1997. “Finchy” has since become one of golf’s most enigmatic commentators, but come 2016, he is happy to trade the microphone for a leadership role in Rio.
“I'm excited to be given this once in a lifetime, inspirational, challenging experience,” Baker-Finch said.
“I am looking forward to this incredible honour of leading the men's and women's golf teams into Rio 2016, where I believe both teams have a strong chance of winning,” he said citing Adam Scott (ranked No.1), Jason Day (top 10), former No.1 Karrie Webb and Minjee Lee as Australian medal chances.
“The Australian Team is one of the most respected teams in the world both on and off the field and our Golf teams will compete with honour and integrity only enhancing that important image.”
Chiller also appointed Luca Liussi and Scott Bowen as men’s and women’s rugby sevens Team Leader’s respectively, taking care of the other new sport on the Rio Olympic program.
Basketball pair Jonathan Grady (men’s) and Tamara Sheppard (women’s) will lead two basketball squads on the rise into Rio, while experienced campaigner Trish Heberle has been named Team Leader for Australia’s thriving men’s and women’s hockey teams.
Between them, these six Team Leaders takes responsibility for some of the biggest medal hopes in Rio.
Adam Scott is perched atop the Olympic golf qualification table, while the women’s sevens side finished second in the 2014 World Series and the men’s and women’s hockey sides picked up gold and silver medals at the 2014 World Cup.
Australia’s men’s basketball team is entering an extremely exciting period with the likes of NBA star Patty Mills, Aron Baynes, Dante Exum and Andrew Bogut all eying Rio.
The women’s team has a perfect record- winning a medal at every Olympics since 1996.
“The Team Leaders are a vital cog in the management and leadership of our Team,” Chiller stressed.
“Our Team Leaders are responsible for not only the administrative and operational oversight of their teams, but also for the culture and values, and for ensuring that their athletes understand what it means to be an Olympian and to drive the respect for our great Olympic history and tradition.”
The majority of Team Leaders will be named by the end of the year.
Rio 2016 – Australian Team Leaders
(*denotes new appointments)
Basketball – men’s Jonathan Grady 5th August, 2014*
Basketball – women’s Tamara Sheppard 5th August, 2014*
Canoe Richard Fox 30th April, 2014
Diving Graeme Rose 30th April, 2014
Equestrian Chris Webb 30th April, 2014
Golf Ian Baker-Finch 5th August, 2014*
Gymnastics Adam Sachs 30th April, 2014
Hockey Trish Heberle 5th August, 2014*
Rowing Chris O’Brien 30th April, 2014
Rugby sevens – men’s Luca Liussi 5th August, 2014*
Rugby sevens – women’s Scott Bowen 5th August, 2014*
Sailing Peter Conde 30th April, 2014
Shooting Tim Mahon 30th April, 2014
Swimming Michael Scott 30th April, 2014
Track & field Simon Nathan 30th April, 2014
Triathlon Bernard Savage 30th April, 2014
New Team Leader profiles
GOLF: Ian Baker-Finch
Ian won his first Tour event in 1983 at the New Zealand Open, and in doing so qualified for the 1984 British Open at St. Andrews where he surprised the world by leading after the first three rounds.
Multiple victories in Australia, Europe and Japan followed before he joined the PGA TOUR as a rookie in 1989. Ian won the Colonial Invitational that year and The Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in 1991. He also represented Australia many times including at the World Cup in 1985, World Tours Championships 1985-1991, and the Dunhill Cup in 1989 and 1992.
In 1996 Ian served as fellow Australian Peter Thomson’s Co-Captain for the International President's Cup Team. Gary Player appointed Ian as assistant captain for his International team in South Africa in 2003, in Virginia in 2005 and again in Montreal in 2007. Ian regards those four weeks as some of the most memorable times in his career, representing his country alongside so many of the world’s greats.
After winning 17 titles on all four major tours, Ian retired from full-time competition in 1997. Since then he has worked for Australian television and the US networks, ABC and ESPN as an expert golf analyst. In 2007 he joined the popular CBS golf team on their PGA TOUR coverage, which includes The Masters and US PGA Championship. After more than 15 years in sports television Ian is highly regarded as one of the most popular and successful commentators and is known for his easy going manner and his love for the game of golf.
Ian continues to travel extensively, not only fulfilling his passion to play the world’s top rated golf courses, both classic and modern, but also enhancing his image as an up and coming golf course designer. Baker-Finch Design has been involved in the design of golf courses around the world for the last two decades and he regards the “Desert Course” at Arabian Ranches in Dubai as one of his proudest design achievements.
Along with his course design business and television work, Ian has become one of the more popular corporate presenters, hosting golf days for many leading corporations and charities all over the world. A Life Member of the PGA of Australia, Ian is also a passionate advocate for the continued growth of the game within Australia and abroad and is a former Director of the PGA Tour of Australasia.
He was also recognised by the Australian Government in 2000 as a recipient of the Australian Sports Medal.
HOCKEY (M + W): Tricia Heberle
Tricia Heberle overseas the women’s and men’s national high performance hockey programs, the junior performance programs and hockey’s national high performance pathways.
A World Cup bronze medallist, she was a member of the Hockeyroos’ side that competed at the 1983 and 1986 World Cups and the Australian team that narrowly missed out on a medal at the 1984 Olympic Games. From 1990-1996 Heberle was South Australia Sports Institute women’s hockey Head Coach before joining Ric Charlesworth’s backroom team as Assistant Coach for performance analysis for the Sydney Olympic campaign from 1997-2000. In 2001 she was appointed Head Coach of the England and Great Britain women’s team, leading England to silver at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
After leaving England in 2004 she spent four years as a senior consultant in high performance with the Western Australian Department of Sport and Recreation before returning to hockey in 2009 as High Performance Network Manager with Hockey Australia. She became High Performance Director in November 2012.
RUGBY SEVENS (W): Scott Bowen
A former Wallabies and NSW Waratahs flyhalf, Scott Bowen is the Team Manager for the Australian Women’s Sevens team. Prior to that he was an assistant coach and high-performance manager at the Waratahs. Bowen won a Shute Shield as an assistant coach with Eastwood in 2003 and was later appointed head coach of the Sydney side.
RUGBY SEVENS (M): Luca Liussi
Luca Liussi has experience as both a coach and manager and has been working within the Rugby world for the last 12 years.
As a manager, Liussi has worked with Six Nations side Italy, Super Rugby side Queensland Reds, the Australian Under 20s and the Australian Sevens sides.
He has also worked as an operations and logistics manager with the Queensland Reds and was a high-performance consultant with the Japanese Rugby Football Union for three years, including Rugby World Cup 2011.
BASKETBALL (M): Jonathan Grady
Charged with leading an Australian men’s basketball unit on the rise, Jon Grady is currently the Manager of Men's National Teams.
BASKETBALL (W): Tamara Sheppard
As the Manager of Women's National Teams, Tamara Sheppard will slip right into her role as Team Leader.
Australian Olympic Committee