Celebrating softball’s unique place in Australian Olympic history

The Tokyo Olympics start two years from today, a perfect time to reflect on Australian softball's proud Olympic history.

Celebrating softball’s unique place in Australian Olympic history

Softball has a unique place in Australian sporting history, with our national team having won a medal in every Olympics in which softball has been contested.

As the Aussie Spirit prepare to try to qualify for Tokyo 2020, which commences two years from today, Softball Australia would like to pay tribute to the amazing athletes who have gone before them.

Softball has not been a part of the Olympic program since Beijing in 2008 but has been reinstated for Tokyo 2020, reviving the hopes and dreams of many players who grow up hoping to represent their country at an Olympic Games.

But only six teams can compete for an Olympic softball medal in Tokyo, which means qualifying tournaments must be held. The first of these is the XVI Women’s Softball World Championship, which will be held in Chiba, Japan, from August 2-12.

The winner of this event receives automatic qualification to Tokyo 2020.

Sydney Olympic Games softball

Bronzed Aussies: The Australian softball team on the dais at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

As the Aussie Spirit prepare for this enormous challenge, Softball Australia acknowledges the 33 athletes who have represented Australia in softball at previous Olympics.

The list includes Stacey Porter, now captain of the Aussie Spirit, and Justine Smethurst, who are the only two members of the current Australian team to have previously played in an Olympic Games.

Softball Australia CEO David Pryles says the time is right to recognise the achievements of past Australian softball teams at Olympic and World Championship (Men and Women) level.

“I am extremely proud of our Olympic heritage, having medalled at every Games we have participated in,” Pryles said.

“Softball was part of the Olympics four times from 1996 to 2008 — and Australia stood on the medal dais each time.

“With the Softball World Championship starting next week, now is the perfect time to pay tribute to the athletes who have represented Australia at Olympics and/or World Championships with such distinction.”

Australian Olympic Committee Chief Executive Officer Matt Carroll says Tokyo 2020 will offer Australians a viewer-friendly Olympic experience.

“Given the small time difference between Australia and Japan, this is in some ways a home Games,” Carroll said.

“With a record 33 sports and 339 events across 42 venues, this will be a sports lovers’ nirvana that we can all experience without climbing out of bed early in the morning to see our Olympians competing.”

Ian Chesterman, Chef de Mission of the Australian 2020 Team, says planning is well under way to send what will be one of Australia’s biggest Olympic Teams.

“We are looking at a team of around 470 athletes and the two years to go mark provides a focus for everyone striving to be part of the Australian Team in Tokyo,” Chesterman said.

“We know that our athletes and coaches are really excited about the opportunity ahead and we wish them all the very best with their preparations.

“The venues are looking first rate and we have great confidence in the Tokyo organisers to put on a wonderful Games.”

olympic softball

Australian softball’s first Olympic medal, a bronze in Atlanta in 1996.