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Australia's tallest female basketballer Sue Geh inducted into ACT Sport Hall of Fame

November 20, 2015

Chris Dutton, Sports Reporter at The Canberra Times

She was the gentle 206-centimetre giant who stood out because of her height, but ACT Sport Hall of Fame inductee Sue Geh helped build a legacy for women's basketball in Canberra.

Seventeen years after the Olympian died from heart failure, Geh will be one of nine athletes and officials added to the Hall of Fame at a ceremony on Monday.

Geh will be inducted alongside retired Sydney Swans champion Craig Bolton, lawn bowler Adam Jeffery, Paralympian Lisa Llorens and multi para-sports star Michael Milton.

Former Canberra Raiders chairman John McIntyre, Brumbies president Geoff Larkham, hockey administrator Graham Carter and para-athletics coach Chris Nunn will be honoured as associate members.

Geh's recognition comes with a touching twist. Officials sent a letter to Geh's mum Inge and it arrived just days before Inge died earlier this month.

Geh's career was cut short by knee injuries, a potential stint with the University of Alabama Birmingham was thwarted by a heart murmur and Mafran Syndrome led to her death after her 39th birthday in 1998.

She remains the tallest player to have represented the Australian Opals. She scored 69 points in an ACT premier division match and helped the Capitals gain entry into the WNBL.

"In those days [1985] she was unique because there weren't that many tall players, she certainly was intimidating because she altered shots and was athletic enough to get up and down the floor," said former coach Jerry Lee.

"She was a super person and you couldn't ask for an easier person to coach.

"Most of the centres for Australia were six-feet one, two or three. She was six-foot nine. There weren't many that could match her height."

Sport and Recreation has taken over Hall of Fame operations after ACT Sport was disbanded in July after more than 30 years.

Geh left her mark on courts around Canberra, dominating opponents after a coach plucked a then towering nine-year-old off the sideline and added her into an under-14s team.

Geh was the tallest female player in the world and was poised to play in the US, but a medical examination revealed a heart murmur. She was prepared to sign a waiver to absolve the university of any responsibility but Alabama Birmingham officials weren't willing to let her play and sent her back to Australia.

Geh was then picked up by the AIS and made her Opals debut, playing a pivotal role at getting Australia's first Olympic Games win.

She scored 10 points, had four assists, blocked three shots and grabbed three rebounds as Australia beat Yugoslavia.

"If it wasn't for [Geh] and Jenny Cheesman and that Canberra team that won 19 straight games [in the Women's Basketball Conference], the Capitals wouldn't be in the WNBL," Lee said.

"Sue and Jenny were probably the reason we stepped from division two into the WNBL. Sue passed away at a young age and she was frail. She was long and lanky, but certainly had it."

Former Basketball ACT general manager Brian Franklin spoke at Inge's funeral on Friday and will accept Geh's award on Monday alongside Errol Raiser.

"[Inge] was pretty pleased when she got the news and I understand she got the official letter [of Geh's award] three days before she died," Franklin said.

"[Geh's] height was the advantage, she was the tallest woman in Australia. She wasn't what you'd call a player with all the moves. But she was very effective and established her reputation in the game with a blinder at the 1984 Olympics."

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