Casey Stoner is being granted sporting immortality. He is being inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame at a gala dinner in Melbourne - the highest honour for an Australian sportsperson.
On finding himself in the eminent company of the all-time Australian champions, he says “It’s very, very special.”
And he’s right, it is special, especially for a motorbike racer.
It was not to be entirely unexpected though. Having retired in 2012 following his sixth Australian MotoGP win, Casey dominated the field consistently with the fastest laps by a wide margin. Incredibly, he won his last race despite the handicap of a nasty broken ankle. It was called a fairytale exit and one of the memorable moments in the history of Australian sport, cementing legendary status onto a sportsman already considered to be great.
Tonight it’s being corroborated by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame selection committee chairman Robert de Castella, himself an Olympian and marathon champion, who says “Casey Stoner is widely regarded as one of best riders in the history of motorcycling.”
Nerves of Steel
As two-time MotoGP world champion, making split-second judgement calls was Casey Stoner’s stock in trade. Controlling nerves is important in all walks of life, but none more so than the high-wire world of motorsports.
Casey’s reflexes were his golden egg, but it wasn’t luck. What set him apart was ultimately his determination, discipline and ability to adapt. And of course, “I had that competitive edge in me,” he says.
But Casey’s reflexes weren’t just learned motor-muscle responses, these were philosophies of adaptability. “I think some riders have the mentality that they need to change the bike to suit them, but […] that is when you need to adapt yourself.” His philosophy kept him competitive. “I went with an open mind that I might need to change myself and not just the bike.”
Casey’s charm can sometimes belie his deep determination. “I just don’t give up on things.” Racing was his great pleasure, but he “wasn’t just going round for the sake of enjoying it. It was always to improve and better myself.”
And then there’s the feeling, of course. “It’s a great feeling to ride with skill and, when you’re very comfortable on one, there’s really no better feeling out there.”
Aside from being a champion on the racetrack, Casey is the 2008 Young Australian of the Year and a Saxton Exclusive Speaker we are proud to represent.
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