With winter athletes already enjoying the benefits of the new facility, located at Brisbane’s Sleeman Sports Centre, the title acknowledges the life-long contribution Geoff Henke AO has made to Australian Winter Olympic sport.
Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President John Coates AC says there’s no individual more deserving than Geoff Henke, given his determination to create opportunities for winter athletes.
“No-one has fought harder to create this wonderful facility than Geoff. More broadly, his vision has seen Australian winter sports flourish. The Henke Centre is a fitting acknowledgment of his contribution.
“For two decades Geoff served as Australia’s Chef de Mission to the Winter Olympic Games. His influence in the years that followed has seen Australia emerge with 15 Olympic winter medals – five gold, five silver and five bronze – all because Geoff was persistent in his belief Australia could achieve international success.”
Construction of the $6.5 million centre of excellence began in June 2019 following agreement between the Federal Government, including the Australian Institute of Sport, the Queensland Government, the AOC and the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia (OWIA).
In September 2020, aerial and mogul athletes began testing the ramps, quickly giving the facility the thumbs up.
The Queensland Government provided the location through Stadiums Queensland, with $4.5 million in funding provided by the Federal Government and the AIS, with the AOC contributing the remainder.
“This would not have happened without the strong support of government. Our thanks to Federal Sports Minister Senator Richard Colbeck and Queensland Minister for Sport Mick de Brenni for their ongoing commitment to Australia’s Olympic success.
“My thanks also to the facilities’ builders Buildcorp and project managers Colliers for delivering this project to the highest standard, on-time and on-budget,” Mr Coates concluded.
Federal Minister for Youth and Sport, Richard Colbeck said Geoff Henke helped shine a light on the extraordinary efforts of Australia's Olympians.
"It is only fitting that a state-of-the-art training facility should be named in his honour," Minister Colbeck said. "It is deserved recognition for a champion of winter sports and will ensure our athletes can remain at the top of their game."
AOC Vice-President and six times Winter Chef de Mission, Ian Chesterman AM says Geoff Henke’s drive and passion has never abated.
“Geoff identified a competitive disadvantage for our aerial athletes and he set about correcting that. Now our athletes can train at home as they prepare for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games in 2022.
“It was a great honour to follow him into the Chef role and his advice along the way was absolutely invaluable,” Mr Chesterman said.
AIS CEO Peter Conde said: “Future generations of Australian winter athletes will be able to progress their training through this world-class facility and be reminded of a pioneer who made it possible.”
Also recognised is OWIA CEO and Chef de Mission for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games Geoff Lipshut.
The lift transporting training athletes to the start of their jumps at the Henke Centre will be known as “Lipshut’s Lift”, recognising the specific contribution Geoff Lipshut has made to Australia’s aerial skiing program.
Ian Chesterman said “Geoff has been a pioneer, particularly through the creation of a transfer program which has converted skilled gymnasts into world-class aerial skiers.”
“The names of Marshall, Cooper, Camplin, Lassila, Peel and Morris, are all aerial World Champions or Olympic medallists, and I am sure each would agree that Geoff Lipshut was a major contributor to their success,” Mr Chesterman concluded.
The Geoff Henke Olympic Winter Training Centre will be officially opened next year.