Greater Hume’s Australia Day Ambassador Announced

Published on 11 January 2019

Victor Kovalenko with Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page celebrate their Olympic victory London 2012..jpg

Each year Greater Hume holds its Australia Day Celebration in a different town or village. In 2019 the focus will be on the community of Walla Walla.

Cr Doug Meyer GHC Deputy Mayor said, he is thrilled to welcome, Mr Victor Kovalenko OAM, as Greater Hume’s Australia Day Ambassador.

Growing up in the former Soviet Union, Victor Kovalenko began sailing at a young age and enjoyed success competing at a high level. The renowned coach didn’t ever compete at the Olympics himself due to several factors, including his university studies and the boycott of the 1984 Olympic Games. However, he turned his attention to coaching and found success quickly, coaching the Soviet Union’s 470 women’s team of Larisa Moskalenko and Iryna Chunikhovskaya to an Olympic Bronze medal at the 1988 Olympic Games. He then went on to coach the Ukraine’s 470 men’s and women’s teams to gold and bronze medals at the 1996 Olympic Games – the country’s first ever sailing medals.

With the political landscape in the Ukraine not offering Victor the opportunities and resources he needed, he made the difficult decision to leave his family in the Ukraine and come to Australia in 1997 to coach the Australian 470 sailors. Many deemed his mission in Australia - mission impossible – with just three years to prepare a competitive men’s and women’s 470 team for the home Games of 2000. However, Kovalenko proved his pundits wrong, with his women’s team of Jenny Armstrong and Belinda Stowell winning Australia’s first ever Olympic sailing medal (a gold) in female classes, only an hour before his men’s team of Tom King and Mark Turnbull also took gold in the men’s 470 event.

The Aussies dubbed him the ‘medal maker’ following this success. Now an Australian citizen, his family joined him from the Ukraine and a long and successful coaching career in his adopted country has followed.

Victor’s achievements to date have been:

  • World Sailor’s of the Year Coach 1997, 2013
  • 6 Olympic Gold Medal’s Coach
  • 1 Olympic Silver Medal Coach
  • 3 Olympic Bronze Medal’s Coach
  • 19 World Champion’s Coach
  • 13 European Champion’s Coach
  • 129 World Class Regattas Winning Coach
  • Head Coach of Australian Olympic Team 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016
  • Australian Coach of the Year 2008, 2012
  • Medal of the Order of Australia 2012
  • Order of Merit of NSW Olympic Council
  • 4 medals of USSR and Ukrainian Governments
  • Australian Sport Hall of Fame Member
  • Olympic 470 class Hall of Fame Member
  • International Sailing Federation, Coaches Commission Member
  • International Coaches Association Vice-President
  • Honoured Member of Royal Queensland Yacht Club, Royal Tasmania Yacht Club and Monaco Yacht Club
  • Member of Honour of Sandringham Yacht Club, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and Middle Harbour Yacht Club
  • Ambassador of Australia Day 2000 2013
  • Master Degree in Sport and Sport Science

The Australia Day celebrations will be held at the Walla Walla Sportsground, William Street (East) Walla Walla commencing with a free breakfast from 8.00 am prepared by the Walla Walla 150th Celebrations Committee and sponsored by Council.

The official ceremony will commence from 9.00 am awards to be presented include Citizen, Young Citizen, Sports Volunteer and Community Event of the Year and School Citizenship Certificates. Nominees will be announced in mid-January.

Following the official ceremony the Walla Walla Community welcomes everyone to continue the celebrations with the following events planned:

  • Walla Walla Swimming Pool will be open from 12 noon, with music and lunch (for sale)
  • Walla Walla 150th Celebrations
  • afternoon - town tours, historical and memorabilia displays
  • evening – German Festival with plenty of food, drink and entertainment at the Sportsground.

Chairperson for the Walla Walla 150th Anniversary Committee, Trevor Schroeter said that the local community was excited about hosting the Australia Day ceremony as part of Walla Walla’s 150th celebrations and encouraged all residents of Greater Hume to attend.

Cr Meyer joined Trevor in inviting residents of Greater Hume and visitors from across the region to celebrate Australia Day, this year at Walla Walla Sportsground, Walla Walla. 

So, bring the family and enjoy Australia Day at Walla Walla.

 Greater Hume Council Australia Day Celebrations