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Sporting Icons: Celebrating Kevin Coombs' Enduring Impact



Nathan Lovett-Murray has remarkably revived the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander awards after a 20-year hiatus, yet he remains modest and content to bask in the background during the event. At the MCG's Olympic Room, where he once thrived as an Essendon midfielder, Lovett-Murray graciously accepts recognition at the rear tables, allowing others to shine in the spotlight.


Amidst the ceremony, Nathan's father Gary Murray, steps forward to present the final award. Gary humorously diverts attention to his grandsons, playfully noting that they surpass the family's sporting prowess. Yet, the event’s focal point was Kevin Coombs, a pivotal figure and the essence of an Indigenous Trailblazer.


Murray shares a familial bond with Coombs, a connection forged through adversity. Coombs' life was forever changed by an accident at age 11, where Murray's father intervened heroically, saving Coombs' life with a lifesaving transfusion. Coombs' journey post-injury was arduous, but his discovery of a passion for sport, especially wheelchair basketball, proved life changing.


Coombs, a five-time Paralympian, captivated audiences with his prowess on the basketball court and earned accolades, yet his impact extended far beyond individual achievements. He was a trailblazer, not just for his sporting prowess but also for his leadership and commitment to inclusivity in sports. His legacy transcends accolades, as he paved the way for other Indigenous athletes to shine on the global stage.


Despite his achievements, Coombs remained humble, valuing team success over individual recognition. His daughters, Rose Falla and Janine Coombs, recount how Coombs always aimed to uplift his teammates and foster a sense of unity in sports. His impact on the Paralympic movement and his contribution to Indigenous sport are enduring, and he remains an indelible figure in Australian sporting history.


Coombs' journey symbolizes resilience, determination, and a legacy that resonates beyond the sporting arena. His impact continues to inspire generations, a testament to the enduring power of his spirit and dedication to sport and community.


The evening at the National Indigenous Sports Foundation awards was not just a celebration of individual achievements; it was a tribute to the transformative power of sport and the legacy of an extraordinary man who left an indelible mark on Australian sports history.


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