Kurt Fearnley wins The Don Award

John Salvado

Kurt Fearnley's unquestioned status as one of the most inspirational sportspeople ever to don the green and gold has been made official.

The wheelchair racer has become the first athlete with a disability to win The Don Award, capping a career which includes three Paralympic gold medals, seven world titles and an astonishing 35 marathon triumphs across 10 countries - and counting.

The Don is presented annually to the sportsperson whose deeds most inspired the nation.

Fearnley was not present at Crown Palladium for the Sport Australia Hall of Fame (SAHOF) function on Thursday night to accept the honour in person.

But the 37-year-old had a pretty good excuse - he was in the United States having recently contested the Chicago marathon.

"I recognise that I am the first within the Paralympic movement to receive this award," Fearnley said in his acceptance speech.

"I am incredibly grateful to have been given this opportunity and I guarantee I will not be the last."

The other seven finalists were Matildas superstar Sam Kerr, Indianapolis 500 winner Will Power, F1 star Daniel Ricciardo, cricketer Ellyse Perry, Australian men's hockey captain Mark Knowles, para-triathlete Lauren Parker and wheelchair racer Madison de Rozario.

As he has done throughout his career, Fearnley took the opportunity to advocate for greater opportunities throughout society for people with disabilities.

"We need every person within this room to embrace our community of people with disabilities, not only on the sporting field but within administration, in executive and within board and in governance roles," he said.

Although he is still racing as an individual, Fearnley had a triumphant swan song in national colours at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April when he won gold in the marathon and silver in the 1500m.

He was also the Australian flagbearer at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony.

"I couldn't have finished my career any better," he said.

"I received so much from my sport, I received so much from wearing the green and gold and I don't have any more to give.

"It was the perfect moment for me to call it a day."

Former Australian cricket captain and broadcasting legend Richie Benaud was posthumously named the 40th Legend of Australian sport.

He was only the third cricketer to receive the honour, joining Sir Donald Bradman - after whom the The Don Award is named - and Keith Miller.

Benaud was unanimously recommended for Legend status back in 2008, but asked that it be postponed until he finished working.

He died in April 2015 aged 84.

"This would've made him extremely thrilled and honoured because he had such respect for both Bradman and Miller," said Benaud's wife Daphne.

"The family is most honoured by it too. We're delighted."

Socceroos star Harry Kewell, touring car driver Allan Moffat, surfer Wendy Botha, rugby league great Darren Lockyer, rower Drew Ginn and basketballer Robyn Maher were inducted as athlete members of the SAHOF.

Joining them in the Hall of Fame were horse trainer Gai Waterhouse and administrator Sam Coffa.