As the capital city of a sporting nation, Canberra has an expectation to uphold in terms of the talent it produces. The founding of the Australian Institute of Sport in 1981 gave the city high quality facilities to help develop the future stars of Australian sport. Many great Canberran natives made the jump to the elite level after progressing through the AIS but plenty of others have made their own way in the sporting world over the years. Here’s the top five ACT athletes from the 2010s.
1. Patty Mills
Patty Mills, an NBA champion and three-time Olympian begins the list of great Canberran sportspeople. A proud Kokatha, Naghiralgal and Dauareb-Meriam man, Mills attended Marist College and the AIS, before a very successful Australian junior representative career led him to the NBA.
Drafted in 2009 with the 55th pick, Mills became only the second First Nations man to play in the NBA. A key member of the San Antonio Spurs 2014 championship squad, Patty has been plying his trade in America as an elite three-point shooter for over a decade. At the time of writing, he holds the record for the most NBA points by an Australian.
Mills has represented the Australian Boomers at three seperate Olympic games (2012, 2016, 2021). In 2021, he became the first Indigenous man to be a flag bearer when he carried the Australian flag at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. He captained the Boomers to their first ever Olympic medal in 2021, scoring 42 points in the final game to secure the bronze medal.
2. Nick Kyrgios
Nick Kyrgios is a polarising figure around the globe, but as a born and bred Canberran, his status as an elite tennis player lands him on this list. He went to school at Radford College and Daramalan College and received a full scholarship to the AIS at the age of 16. Kyrgios is still based in Canberra, and trains at the Lyneham Tennis Centre.
Kyrgios played in his first professional tournament, the 2012 Australian Open, at the age of 16. He broke into the top 100 in 2014 after beating world number 1 Rafael Nadal to reach the quarter finals of Wimbledon. His highest singles career ranking is 13th.
A “box-office” style of play has led to plenty of incredible moments over the years, with underhand serving, between-the-legs shots and outrageous volleys characterising his game. Kyrgios is always at his best against the top players, and is only the second person to have beaten the Big 3 of tennis (Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic) on the first try.
3. Anna Flanagan
A hockey player since the age of five, Anna Flanagan was a star for the Hockeyroos during the first half of the 2010s. She attended Radford College and graduated with a degree in sports journalism from the University of Canberra. A Player of the Tournament trophy at the U21s National Championships led to Flanagan debuting for the Hockeyroos in March of 2010.
That debut year was a very successful one for Flanagan, as she was named ACT Academy of Sport Junior Athlete of the Year. She also represented Australia as a member of the gold medal-winning Hockeyroos at the Delhi Commonwealth Games. Her second Commonwealth Games medal was added in 2014, with Flanagan leading the team to gold.
Flanagan was a key member of the Olympic Games team that finished fifth in London. In 2013 she was named World Hockey’s Young Player of the Year, only the third Australian women to achieve this award. Known as a corner specialist, Flanagan represented Australia 171 times over a highly successful individual and team career.
4. Tom Rogic
A Canberra native, Tom Rogic is a soccer legend for club and country. He played his junior football with Tuggeranong United before progressing to the senior level with Belconnen United. Rogic’s big break came in 2011, when he won the opportunity to join the Nike Academy.
After a year with the Nike Academy Rogic returned to Australia where he played for the Central Coast Mariners in the A-league. Five goals and two Young Player of the Month Awards was an impressive output in only 20 appearances. His talent was soon recognised by Scottish giants, Celtic, and in 2013 he made the move to Glasgow. A man-of-the-match performance in his very first game, 14 trophies, and a famous game-winning goal in 2017 sum up his Celtic career so far.
Rogic has also represented the Socceroos on 52 occasions. The attacking midfielder has scored 10 goals for Australia, with his best stretch of performances coming during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers where he netted 6 goals as Australia qualified for the World Cup. Arguably the most talented player for the country in the 2010s, Rogic is the metronome that makes the Socceroos tick.
5. Caroline Buchanan
Caroline Buchanan is a multi-sport star who has represented Australia in both BMX and mountain-biking. She spent her childhood at the Canberra BMX club, training hard on the track to eventually become one of Australia’s most successful athletes of the 2010s.
A sixteen time National Champion in BMX (11) and Mountain Biking (5), Buchanan has dominated the rest of the Australian competition year after year. On top of this, she has been named the Australian Female Mountain Biker of the year three times. Buchanan represented her country in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, but fell short of the podium both times.
On the world stage, Buchanan is a five time champion in Mountain Biking and a three time champion in BMX, proving her status as a star at the international level. She was the 2012 top ranked BMX cyclist, and was awarded the prestigious 2013 Australian Athlete of the Year title. In 2013, Buchanan was also recognised as the first BMX or Mountain Bike cyclist to win the coveted Sir Hubert Opperman Trophy for Australian Cyclist of the Year.
Canberra sport was in safe hands during the 2010s, as these five athletes represented the city at the highest level of their chosen fields. It’s a testament to the talent produced by the city, and proves that the capital upholds Australia’s identity as a sporting nation.