Athlete


Date Inducted: 11 Oct 2007
Sport: Rowing
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Michael McKay OAM - Rowing

Michael McKay is considered one of Australia's most successful oarsmen over the long history of the sport, as can be demonstrated by his results. He competed in five successive Olympics from 1988 to 2004, was a finalist in all and won medals at four of them. He won gold with the "Oarsome Foursome" at the Barcelona and Atlanta Olympics, silver with the eight in Sydney and bronze with the eight in Athens. He was a finalist, finishing fifth, with the eight in Seoul.

He won World Championship gold with the Australian eight in 1986, with the four in 1990, '91 and '98 and won a silver in the pairs in '98. He rowed 16 times for Victoria in the Kings Cup for 13 wins and two seconds.

Mike McKay began rowing at Xavier College in Melbourne. His first taste of international success came as a member of the Australian eight which won a World title in 1986.

After finishing a disappointing fifth with the eight at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, McKay teamed up with James Tomkins, Nick Green and Sam Patten to win the coxless fours at the world championships on Lake Barrington, Tasmania to lay the foundations of what became known as the Awesome Foursome.

Later, When Patten withdrew to concentrate on his medical studies he was replaced by Andrew Cooper, who was a member of the four when it won the world title in Vienna and later the gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Two major changes were made as the Foursome began its campaign for the Atlanta 1996 Olympics. Cooper withdrew, to be replaced by Drew Ginn; and McKay took over the stroke seat from Tomkins. After the crew won gold, McKay was awarded the honour of carrying the flag in the Atlanta closing ceremony.

McKay was a member of Australia's eights at both the 2000 and the 2004 Olympics, winning silver in Sydney and bronze in Athens.

He served as a Board member of the Australian Olympic Committee from 1997 to 2000.

Mike was awarded an OAM for service to sport in 1987 and was recognized as the Australian Rower of the Year in 1999. He served as a Board Member of the Australian Olympic Committee from 1997-2000, and was awarded the Australian Sports medal in 2000

In July 2007, Mike was awarded the prestigious Thomas Keller medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution to rowing as a competitor and sports personality, and to this day he is esteemed as a sportsman of great note to our aspiring champions.


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When considering the stature of an athlete or for that matter any person, I set great store in certain qualities which I believe to be essential in addition to skill. They are that the person conducts his of her life with dignity, with integrity, courage, and perhaps most of all, with modesty. These virtues are totally compatible with pride, ambition, and competitiveness.