'Our Olympians' recognises and highlights the remarkable stories of PLC Sydney students and staff who have represented Australia in the Olympic and Paralympic Games over the years. Congratulations to all - what an amazing achievement.

Follow the green and gold from PLC Sydney to Paris! Join us as we celebrate the stories of PLC Sydney’s Olympic connections.

The remarkable stories of PLC Sydney students and staff who have represented Australia.

Wilhelmina “Mina” Wylie (1891-1984)

Mina made waves as one of Australia’s pioneering female Olympians. In 1912, at the Stockholm Olympic Games, she and fellow swimmer Fanny Durack broke barriers as the first women to compete in swimming events. Their legacy was immediate: Mina clinched silver in the women’s 100m freestyle, while Fanny claimed gold.

Fast forward to 1930, Mina found herself teaching swimming at PLC Sydney. The school’s swimming pool, erected in 1927, became a hub for aquatic education. Margaret Haynes (née Birk), a PLC Sydney student in 1930, recalls Mina overseeing lessons with a presence that filled the poolside.

Mina’s aquatic journey began in Coogee, where she learned to swim in her father’s ocean baths. Despite setbacks like the cancellation of the 1916 Olympics due to World War I, Mina persisted, accumulating championships and breaking records. Her remarkable career culminated in her induction into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1975.

Stockholm 1912
Catherine Onslow (Pym, 1938)

A remarkable ex-student of PLC Sydney, Catherine Onslow's passion for fencing led her to the global stage of the Olympics.

Catherine cherished her time at PLC Sydney. She remembered Miss Froggatt as her Kindergarten teacher in Shubra Hall, now the Principal’s Office. Catherine held leadership roles in Rounders, Netball and Swimming committees, and was active in the Student Christian Movement. In her final year, she was Prefect and Captain of Kinross House. She fondly recalls Miss Wills, her History teacher, noting her resemblance to Wallis Simpson.

Catherine was one of the six members of the Australian fencing team at the 1952 Helsinki Games, where she competed in the Women’s Individual Foil event. Reflecting on her journey, Catherine fondly recalls her time at PLC Sydney from 1927–1938, where she served as Captain of Kinross House and excelled in various sports committees.

Catherine's path to fencing began at the Swords Club in Rushcutters Bay, under the tutelage of Frank Stewart. Her dedication led her to Paris, where she attained the prestigious Maître d’Armes qualification in 1948. Despite minimal financial support—her airfare only covered from Paris to Helsinki—Catherine embraced the opportunity to represent her country, cherishing the modesty of the Helsinki Games' opening ceremony.

Beyond her athletic achievements, Catherine's PLC Sydney years were marked by leadership and involvement in school activities. Her advice to aspiring Olympians resonates with her own journey: ‘Get the support of your family.’ Catherine's father played a pivotal role in encouraging her fencing pursuits—a passion sparked by her love for historical novels like 'The Three Musketeers'.

Helsinki 1952
Elizabeth Walker (Fraser, 1957)

At PLC Sydney, Elizabeth’s achievements spanned several years: winning the Senior Championship in 1957 with a record time of 30.4 seconds, serving as Form Sports Captain for 6B2, setting a Junior Championship record of 31 seconds in 1956, and contributing to her House committees including Kinross and Vicars.

In the rich tapestry of PLC Sydney's legacy, Elizabeth shines brightly as a distinguished member of the Australian Olympic Team. Her journey began right here at PLC Sydney, where she honed her aquatic skills from a young age. By 1956 (at just 15 years of age), Elizabeth, stood proudly as a member of the Australian Swimming Team at the Melbourne Olympics—a momentous event in Australia's sporting history.

"I can’t remember being taught how to swim," Elizabeth reminisces with a smile. "I seem to have always known how."

Elizabeth's dedication to swimming was unparalleled. From winning the Australian Junior Championship in 1955 to her participation in the 1956 Olympics, her journey was marked by early morning training sessions, unwavering support from her family, and the guidance of Coach Frank Guthrie. Although her best event, the 200m freestyle, wasn't on the Olympic roster that year, Elizabeth was part of the 4 x 100m freestyle relay team, contributing to Australia's Olympic success.

Beyond her competitive years, Elizabeth's love for swimming endured. She continued to share her passion, teaching her children and grandchildren to swim and even embracing triathlons in the 1980s.

Reflecting on her Olympic experience, at the time over 50 years ago, Elizabeth offered sage advice to aspiring athletes: "Just go for it, but remember, you must enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it."

Join us in celebrating Catherine Onslow (Pym, 1938)—whose pure enjoyment of sport reminds us of the camaraderie that it brings.

Melbourne 1957
Nanette Thomas (Duncan, 1965).

Going to the Olympics had been Nanette’s dream for a long time. “As soon as I went to Don Talbot, when I was about eight,” she explains, “I thought I could go to the Olympics. He gave great confidence and encouragement.” Talbot, internationally famous swimming coach and administrator, was appointed the inaugural Director of the Australian Institute of Sport in 1980.

Nanette was 17 years old when she learned she was a member of the Australian Swimming Team for the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. “It was Miss Whitlam who told me,” recounts."In those days it was published in the Sydney Morning Herald and she told me the good news through the window of her office in Shubra Hall.

Nanette attended PLC Sydney from 1961–1965 where she excelled both in academics and sports. She trained tirelessly at the Auburn Swimming Club, balancing early morning sessions with school commitments. “Every morning I came to Assembly late, my hair still wet,” Nanette admits years later. Despite the challenges of juggling school and swimming, Nanette cherished her time at PLC Sydney, where she was a Prefect and Captain of Harper House.

Going to the Olympics as a schoolgirl was an experience of a lifetime. She recalls the excitement of living in the Olympic Village, competing alongside legends like Dawn Fraser, and the disappointment of narrowly missing a medal.

Post-Olympics, Nanette prioritised her education, eventually becoming a teacher and pursuing a career that included teaching in NSW and overseas. She also inspired young swimmers through her work in the learn-to-swim program, showing the same dedication she had as a competitive athlete.

Nanette's advice to aspiring Olympians? "You need natural talent, but more importantly, a great coach and unwavering commitment. Believe in yourself and never give up on your dreams!"

Tokyo 1964
Karen Moras-Stephenson, OAM
Director of the J.D. Oates Aquatic Institute at PLC Sydney from 2005-2022

Karen Moras-Stephenson, OAM, was the Director of the J.D. Oates Aquatic Institute at PLC Sydney from 2005-2022 and coached swimming teams at PLC Sydney since 1986.

As a swimmer she was a member of the Australian Swimming Team for the Olympic Games in Mexico City in 1968 and Captain of the Australian Swimming Team for the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. By the time she retired, at 18, Karen had won 11 national championships. She took bronze at the Olympic Games in Mexico City. She won three gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1970 and she broke world records in both the 400 m and 800 m freestyle. A champion indeed.

Karen Moras-Stephenson OAM, a celebrated figure in Australian swimming, has left an indelible mark on both the pool and the sidelines of the sport. Her journey began as a young prodigy under the guidance of renowned coach Forbes Carlile at Ryde Swimming Club. By the age of 14, Moras had already made her mark internationally, earning a bronze medal in the 400m freestyle at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

Moras' career soared to new heights in 1970 at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games, where she secured three gold medals and set a world record in the 800m freestyle, establishing herself as one of Australia's finest middle-distance swimmers. Over her career, she clinched eleven national championships, showcasing her versatility across distances ranging from 200-1500m.

Transitioning from athlete to mentor, Moras became Director of the J.D. Oates Aquatic Institute at PLC Sydney in 2005, following a coaching tenure that began in 1986. Her leadership extended to managing the women's swim team at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games and serving as Section Manager Swimming at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Moras' Olympic journey culminated in captaining the Australian Swimming Team at the 1972 Munich Olympics, where her competitive spirit and leadership were tested amidst the backdrop of historical events. Despite not medaling in Munich, her legacy as a pioneer in Australian swimming endures, inspiring generations of athletes she guided at PLC Sydney.

Karen’s advice to those pursuing an Olympic dream is, “There are three things that make a champion: natural talent, hard work, and a supportive framework – family, siblings, coach. I received two important values from my parents. First, always give 100% and second, set achievable goals but aim higher.”

Munich 1972
Karen Pollock (Brancourt, 1979).

The sixth athlete in our series highlighting remarkable PLC Sydney staff and students who have represented Australia in the Olympic and Paralympic Games is ex-student Karen Pollock (Brancourt, 1979). Karen won a Bronze Medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles in the Rowing Women’s Four event. As a student at PLC Sydney from 1975–1979, Karen was a Prefect and Vice Captain of Anderson House, excelling in sports like netball and shot-put.

Karen's journey into rowing began uniquely after school. Living by the George's River, she and a friend paddled across to the St George Rowing Club at 17 and asked to join. She quickly embraced the sport, training rigorously with weights and long rows, eventually competing at national championships and securing a spot on the 1984 Olympic team.

At the Los Angeles Olympics, Karen and her team faced tough competition but made history as Australia's first female rowers to win an Olympic medal. Reflecting on her Olympic experience, Karen values how rowing fostered both physical and emotional growth, attributes that have aided her in life's challenges.

Karen’s advice to current PLC Sydney rowers with Olympic dreams: "Go for it. That’s how it starts out – a dream. I felt I had the attributes to be a rower, so I focused on the sport.”

Los Angeles 1984
Michael Nobbs

The seventh athlete in our series highlighting remarkable PLC Sydney staff and students who have represented Australia in the Olympic and Paralympic Games is Michael Nobbs, a respected name in world hockey. Representing Australia at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and coaching the Indian team at the London 2012 Olympics, Michael has been our Head Hockey Coach at PLC Sydney since 2018. He recently had the opportunity to coach Japan's Women's Hockey Team at Tokyo 2020 but chose to remain with us, mentoring our coaches and players with his invaluable expertise.

"I love coaching children; it reminds me of why I fell in love with the game."

As an Olympian himself, Michael was part of Australia's hockey team in Los Angeles 1984, narrowly missing out on bronze against Pakistan. At PLC Sydney, Michael drives the future of hockey with our talented athletes. We're proud to have him leading our team!

Michael's daughter Kaitlin is a 2020 Olympian and current Hockeyroo set to compete in the Paris 2024 Olympics. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they collaborated to lead online workshops for our hockey players, providing them with an advanced understanding of the game.

Michael continues to be an integral part of our coaching staff, driving the ongoing development of hockey at PLC Sydney with a highly motivated group of young athletes.

Los Angeles 1984
Lee Capes

The eighth athlete in our series highlighting remarkable PLC Sydney staff and students who have represented Australia in the Olympic and Paralympic Games is Lee Capes OAM, a hockey gold medallist at the 1988 Seoul Olympics who scored the winning goal in the gold medal final against South Korea, securing Australia’s first-ever Olympic ‘team’ gold medal.

Lee served as Sports Coordinator at PLC Sydney from 2012–2016 and then in 2017 became Head of Sport. Lee played a pivotal role in PLC Sydney hockey, winning five SO1 titles and tirelessly enhancing the sport within the school community. Her coaching was a privilege that we deeply appreciate.

Capes comes from a remarkable hockey lineage. Her mother, June Harding, was inducted into the Hockey Australia Hall of Fame in 2018 for her contributions from 1957–1963. Lee and her sister, Michelle, were recently honoured in WA’s Hall of Champions as part of the dominant WA team from 1985–1991.

Hockey prowess runs deep in the family, with Capes' daughter, Kaitlin Nobbs, 2020 Olympian and current Hockeyroo set to compete in the 2024 Paris Games.

In 1988, Capes played a pivotal role in Australia's historic gold medal win at the Seoul Olympics. The team, undefeated throughout the campaign, defeated the Netherlands in the semi-finals and clinched a 2–0 victory over South Korea in the final, with Capes scoring the decisive goal in the 58th minute. Her sister Michelle was also part of this memorable victory.

Lee's legacy extends beyond her playing career as a dedicated coach and mentor, being recognised with an OAM in 1989 for her service to hockey.

Seoul 1988
Emma Johnson (1997)

The ninth athlete in our series highlighting remarkable PLC Sydney staff and students who have represented Australia in the Olympic and Paralympic Games is ex-student Emma Johnson (1997). Emma was 16 when she won bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. She was School Vice Captain and a proud member of Harper House!

“The Olympics is an experience I cherish. Every four years I am reminded of how very special it is. My results were beyond what I expected, and winning the Bronze Medal in my final event was the icing on the cake.”

Emma began swimming at around eight years old. She attended PLC Sydney from 1991–1997 and was a boarder during her Olympic achievement. At 16 she won a bronze medal as a member of the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, swimming excellent legs in both the qualifying heat and final. It was the highlight of a busy schedule for Johnson in Atlanta, where she also reached the final of the 400m individual medley, placing fifth, and competed in the 400m freestyle and 200m individual medley events.

In 1996, Emma trained 10 times a week, before and after school. Emma believes the support of PLC Sydney staff, fellow boarders, and friends played a significant role in her Olympic achievement.

“With the support of the school, I completed my HSC over two years (1996–1997).”

“The school showed flexibility and understanding of the demands of training and long absences from school to travel overseas. During the Olympic year, and in the pre-games training camp, I received many letters of encouragement and good luck from PLC Sydney students.”

“Because I was swimming on the first day of competition, I did not march [in the Opening Ceremony] but watched on TV. The highlight of my events at the Games was my swim in the 4x200m relay, in which we won a bronze medal. Seeing the Australian flag being raised was the most exciting moment of my career.”

She couldn’t resist sharing her schoolgirl excitement about the wonders of the Olympic Village, admitting that she “found it amazing. Everything you needed was available on hand, with movie theatres, bowling alleys, five McDonalds, and huge games rooms, all free.”

Another lasting memory for Emma was the “Green and Gold” party in Thompson Hall when the entire school gave her a thundering cheer upon her return. In her speech to her fellow schoolmates, she urged them to strive towards their goals and never to give up because “the rewards can be as unbelievable as an Olympic medal.”

After her HSC in 1997, Emma continued her swimming training at the University of Nebraska in the USA and also at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. She won two medals at the 1997 World Championships in Gothenburg: Gold in the 400m individual medley and Bronze in the 4x200m freestyle. She retired from swimming in 2000 and went on to complete her studies in Law and Psychology at ANU in 2005, and is now Chief Executive of the Corruption and Crime Commission in WA. .

Emma’s advice to those with Olympic dreams: “Stay focused, believe in yourself and make the most of every moment.”

Atlanta 1996
Geoff Stewart

The tenth athlete in our series highlighting remarkable PLC Sydney staff and students who have represented Australia in the Olympic and Paralympic Games is three-time Olympian Geoff Stewart. Geoff is Head of TAS and Senior Head Rowing Coach at PLC Sydney.

In a remarkable representative rowing career, Geoff won a world championship or Olympic medal on six occasions - each time rowing alongside his twin brother James.

Geoff began his Australian representation journey at the 1994 World Rowing U23 Championships, where he secured a silver medal in the coxless pair. The following year, he and James continued their success at the same event, claiming gold.

The Stewarts made history at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics as the first twins to row together, finishing 6th in the Men’s Eight. In 1997, Geoff contributed to Australia's success in the senior men's eight, earning a bronze medal at both the World Rowing Cups and the World Rowing Championships.

In 1998, Geoff competed in the coxless four at the World Rowing Championships, finishing fourth in the final. He and his crewmates secured silver at World Rowing Cup III the following year.

At the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Geoff and James, alongside teammates Ben Dodwell and Bo Hanson, won bronze in the Men’s Coxless Four. In Athens 2004, joined by their younger brother Stephen, the Stewart brothers earned another bronze in the Men’s Eight.

Geoff brings a wealth of coaching experience to the PLC Sydney rowing program, having coached senior GPS crews for many years, most recently at Shore and club & high-performance crews at UTS Haberfield.

When asked what he loves about coaching rowing, Geoff says: “Rowing is the ultimate team sport. Coaching a crew requires time and patience, but being a coach also entails experiencing the highs and lows of team sports. I love watching people develop their skills and enjoyment through rowing. There's nothing better than observing individuals step into a rowing boat on a calm morning, working together as a team, leaving their daily stress and worries on the shore. I love seeing the team focus solely on the present moment and the shared objective.”

Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 & Athens 2004.
Annabelle Williams OAM (2006)

The eleventh athlete in our series showcasing exceptional PLC Sydney staff & students who represented Australia in the Olympic & Paralympic Games is ex-student Annabelle Williams OAM (2006), a two-time Paralympian & five-time World Record Holder in swimming. Annabelle competed at the Beijing 2008 & London 2012 Paralympics, achieving bronze & gold medals respectively. At PLC Sydney, she served as School Vice Captain & was a proud member of Harper House.

Annie credits Mrs Julia Dangar, her Sports teacher at PLC Sydney, for encouraging her swimming career, & praises swimming coach Pancha Thambo as "amazing."

Annie was born without a left hand & forearm, but she hasn’t let that affect her life.

In Year 12, balancing intense training, leadership as School Vice Captain, & academic demands, Annie won a Bronze Medal at the Commonwealth Games in the Women’s 50m freestyle S9 event.

Reflecting on her return to PLC Sydney after winning bronze, Annie recalls a heartwarming reception orchestrated by her schoolmates, including a surprise celebration led by Dr McKeith with green & gold decorations galore. "It was so overwhelming & humbling. It brings tears to my eyes even now!"

She continued her swimming success, earning medals at the Beijing Paralympics, 2009 World Short Course Championships & 2010 Commonwealth Games.

In her 20s, Annie captained the Australian Paralympic swim team, balancing rigorous training with a blossoming legal career.

Winning gold at the 2012 London Paralympics was a crowning achievement.

Annie has held leadership roles at Paralympics Australia & as in-house counsel for the Australian Olympic Committee, promoting diversity & inclusion in sports.

Annie reminds us that the best part of the Games is not the medals, but “the wonderful people with different disabilities doing great things”.

Beijing 2008 & London 2012 Paralympics