14-year-old Jack Peris, a proud young Gidja, Yawura and Muran man is the recipient of the 2018 NAIDOC Sportsperson of the Year.
Jack comes from a long line of sporting greats, and is the son of Olympic sprinter and Mens 200m Champion, the late Daniel Batman and field-hockey Olympian and six-time Gold Medal winner, Nova Peris.
Sports certainly isn't unfamiliar in his family with not only both parents having done Athletics but Jack also has two sisters, Destiny who plays Field Hockey and sprinting at a National level and Jessica who does National Athletics.
Jack also has two cousins making their mark on Australian sports with Geelong Cats player Brandan Parfitt in the AFL and 2014 Northern Territory Sportsperson of the Year, Brooke Peris who is on the Australian Womens Field Hockey Team.
“Obviously it’s very helpful having my mother as like a rock, kind of thing like she’s always pushed me through things and she’s coached me my whole life” said the young sprinter.
Speedster Since the Start
Jack’s childhood was spent living in many places, from Canberra to Broome and also Darwin. He now attends boarding school in Melbourne. It is here in Melbourne where he began breaking records for athletics, holding the National Record for Under-14s in the 400m with 51.59 seconds and the Under-16s Champion for 400m with 49.95 seconds. He also is tied record-holder of the Victorian 100m.
At just 14 years of age, Jack has also become the tied record-holder of the youngest recipient of the NAIDOC Sportsperson of the Year with Kyle Vander Kuyp who was also 14-years-old when he received the very first Sportsperson of the Year award 33 years ago in 1985.
Before kicking off his Athletics career, Jack loved, and still hopes to one day make, the AFL.
Jack told NITV that he thinks next year could be his biggest success, “All the rep teams are coming in at Under-16s like the TAC Cup. It depends where all the programs kind of guide me, if I’ve got the potential to actually be an AFL player.”
Growing up, Jack admired Indigenous AFL legends such as Michael O’Loughlin, Michael Long and Adam Goodes.
Jack told NITV how these sporting heroes and his mother inspired him to want to be a leader towards young Aboriginal kids.
“If you’re a sportsperson, you kind of lead the way.”
“If you’re a sportsperson, you kind of lead the way,” he says. “Which is what my mum has done and all my role models have done for me. They’ve used their platform to speak out and say ‘anyone can do it’ kind of thing.
“It’s a massive privilege being apart of it, you know just being on the journey.”
Surrounded and supported by great athletes all of his life, such as his parents and also his Godfather sprinter Patrick Johnson, Jack almost seemed destined to follow in their footsteps.
“Mum guided me through the right pathway and my Godfather, Patrick Johnson and all that. There was always someone to be at the track there with me.”
After High School, Jack wants to attend University and study Marine Biology as he knows that sporting careers don’t last forever.
“A lot of footy players are like, ‘um, what am I going to do?’ and stuff like that.
“I want to be a sea ranger out on country.”
"I want to be a sea ranger out on country."
When Jack was young visiting Groote Eylandt on the Gulf of Carpentaria, he went fishing with the sea rangers.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life,” he says.
While Jack has quality Athletic genes and and a lineage of sprinting, he will no doubt make his own independent mark in Australian sports.
The National NAIDOC Awards 2018 broadcasts live on NITV (Ch. 34), Friday 13 July at 7.30pm and will be available On Demand after broadcast.
For all NAIDOC Week stories and features head to our website.