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    Nova Peris (track and field), 1997, courtesy of Australian Sports Commission.
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Peris, Nova Maree (1971 - )

OAM, 2001 Victorian Honour Roll of Women

Born
25 February 1971
Darwin, Northern Teritory, Australia
Occupation
Aboriginal activist, Commonwealth or Empire Games Gold Medalist, Hockey Player, Olympian and Track and Field Athlete
Alternative Names
  • Peris-Kneebone, Nova (former married name)

Summary

Nova Peris was the first Aboriginal Australian to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games. She is also one of a very few athletes who have represented their country in two different sports at separate Olympic Games. In 1996 in Atlanta she was a member of the gold medal winning Hockeyroos team. In 2000 at Sydney she made it to the semi finals of the 400 meters track and field event. She is a staunch campaigner for Indigenous rights and reconciliation in Australia.

Nova served in the Australian Senate from November 2013 until May 2016. She was the first Indigenous Australian to serve in Federal Parliament.

Details

Nova Peris was born in Darwin in 1971 to parents Joan Peris and John Christopherson. From a young age Nova demonstrated great athletic ability, excelling at sports such as basketball, touch football, swimming, hockey, cricket, athletics and Australian Rules.

Nova was the first Indigenous Australian to win an Olympic gold medal, as a member of the Hockeyroos at the Atlanta Olympics (1996). However, from 1997 to 2001, Nova turned her attention to athletics. At the 1998 Commonwealth Games she won two gold medals; one for the 200m and another for the 4x100m relay.

On 8 June 2000 Nova was the first Australian to run with the Sydney Olympic torch on Australian soil. Passed on to her by Indigenous elders, she carried the torch around Uluru with her daughter, Jessica, alongside her. Nova also competed at the Sydney Olympics; she reached the semi-finals of the 400m and was also a member of the 4x400m relay team. In 2005, Nova sold her Olympic Memorabilia to the National Museum of Australia in Canberra

Throughout her career, Nova was the recipient of a number of awards and honours. In 1997 she was awarded both the Young Australian of the Year award and the Medal of the Order of Australia 'for service to sport as a gold medallist in the Atlanta Olympic Games, 1996'. She also received the Australian Sports Medal in June 2000.

In 2012 Nova established the Nova Peris Girls' Academy (NPGA) at St John's College, Darwin, where the primary focus was to keep Indigenous girls in education. The following year she became the first Indigenous Australian to be elected to the Federal Parliament. Nova announced her retirement from federal politics in 2016.

Events

1996
Gold Medalist at the Atlanta Olympic Games - Member of the Hockeyroos
1998
Gold Medalist at Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games - Athletics - 200m event; 4 x 100m relay
2000
Competed at the Sydney Olympic Games in Athletics
2001
Inducted onto the Victorian Honour Roll of Women

Sources used to compile this entry: 'Nova Peris sells Olympic memorabilia', ABC News Online, 2005, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2005-03-05/nova-peris-sells-olympic-memorabilia/1529896; Nova Peris - Young Australian of the Year 1997 / Olympic Gold Medalist, https://www.australianoftheyear.org.au/alumni/connect/nova-peris/; Nova Peris, http://corporate.olympics.com.au/athlete/nova-peris; Nova Peris File; Newspaper Cutting Files; National Sport Information Centre; Nova Peris, Nova, My Story: The Autobiography of Nova Peris, Ian Heads, ABC Books, Sydney, 2003; Former Senator Nova Peris OAM, https://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Parliamentarian?MPID=CDK; 'Peris, Nova (1971-?)', Indigenous Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://ia.anu.edu.au/biography/peris-nova-17821.

Related entries

Related Concepts

  • Hockey (c. 1900 - )

    Nova Peris was a member of the gold medal winning Hockeyroos team in Atlanta.

Archival resources

National Museum Australia

  • Nova Peris Collection; Peris, Nova Maree (1971 - ); National Museum Australia. Details

National Sport Information Centre

  • Nova Peris File; Newspaper Cutting Files; National Sport Information Centre. Details

Digital resources

Title
Nova Peris (hockey)
Type
Image
Date
1996
Source
Australian Sports Commission

Details

Title
Nova Peris (track and field)
Type
Image
Date
1997
Place
Sydney, New South Wales
Source
Australian Sports Commission

Details

Title
Cathy Freeman and Nova Peris
Type
Image
Date
26 February 2000 - 27 February 2000
Place
Sydney, New South Wales
Source
Australian Sports Commission

Details

Nikki Henningham

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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ISSN 2207-3124