Swimmer Leah Neale was thrilled to be back in Ipswich with family and friends after winning a silver medal at the Rio Olympics.
Swimmer Leah Neale was thrilled to be back in Ipswich with family and friends after winning a silver medal at the Rio Olympics. Rob Williams

Top 30 countdown: Loyalty matters for city greats

WHEN it comes to Ipswich loyalty, Leah Neale and Belinda Kitching are up with the best.

Despite intensive training and competition demands interstate and around the world, both fiercely proud Ipswich products always found their way home to relax and share their achievements with family and friends.

Leah has been studying and training at the Sunshine Coast in recent years. She's juggled her Sport and Exercise Science studies with demanding workouts at the University of Sunshine Coast pool.

Supported by her Ipswich-based parents Karen and Ian, Leah learnt to swim at Ipswich's famous McMahon's Swim Factory. She soon after joined the CYMS-St Edmund's club where she achieved considerable junior success.

The former St Mary's College student made her first national team in 2009. A year later, she won all her events at the age nationals.

 

Former Australian goalkeeper Belinda Kitching is head of the Western Pride state league women's program.
Former Australian goalkeeper Belinda Kitching is head of the Western Pride state league women's program. David Nielsen

Having retired from her international sport, former Australian Matildas goalkeeper Belinda remains one of the city's best footballers.

She's now sharing her vast knowledge as a coach.

After ending her career just before the Sydney Olympics, Belinda devoted her energy to developing her coaching career in Hervey Bay before jumping without hesitation at the opportunity to return home to lead Western Pride's women's football program.

Belinda's eye for detail, focus on development and excellent communication skills are already providing a positive influence at Ipswich's state league club. The improvement in this year's women's National Premier League side was incredible.

 

Former Ipswich, Brisbane Bandits and Australian baseballer Steve Hinton.
Former Ipswich, Brisbane Bandits and Australian baseballer Steve Hinton. QT file

Another proud Ipswich performer from a well-known sporting family was Australian baseballer Steve Hinton.

He quickly built and maintained a reputation for producing something special when the team needed it the most.

Throughout his Ipswich, national league and international career, Steve was a constant source of motivation with his speedy hands and well-timed swing of a bat.

Years of playing baseball in Ipswich's famous sporting heartland gave Steve the skills, temperament and aggression needed to reach the highest level.

And like Leah and Belinda, Steve was the among the first to call Ipswich home.



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