More than 300 guests enjoyed the appreciation dinner held to honour St George and Sutherland Shire coaching legend Dick Caine and his wife, Jenny, last month.
The dinner was a thank you to Caine for a lifetime dedicated to coaching as well as his and Jenny’s tireless fundraising.
As well as teaching everyday people how to swim or helping them improve their fitness in the gym, Caine also coached 17 world and Olympic champions.
A large number of elite athletes from Caine’s stable, including world boxing champion Jeff Fenech, distance swimmer Susie Maroney, triathlete Michael Maroney, St George’s own ‘Mr Cycling’ Phill Bates, cycling legend Gary Sutton, cycling Olympian Brett Dutton and brother, Australian Open Surf champion, Stuart and a host of others were at Club Central Hurstville for the event.
Olympic swimmer Janelle Pallister, nee Elford, wrote in a letter to the Caine’s that Dick had showed her what she was capable of.
“Dick showed what it took to become a champion. He showed dedication, enthusiasm, leadership, how to work hard, how to push yourself beyond belief. How to make the unachievable become the achievable. He taught me so much about life.”
Wallaby legend Phil Kearns was the MC for the event, interviewing many sporting greats who shared their stories and tributes. There was also a video message from talkback presenter Alan Jones.
Caine helped raise $1.7 million to buy a new radiology machine for St George Hospital and has also been actively involved in fundraising for breast cancer research. He also organised a memorial plaque to the victims of the Bali tragedy with the Bali Remembrance Day of Champions Fundraiser in December, 2002.
Caine felt that the opportunity presented to him when he took on the lease to the Carss Park swimming pool was life-changing and said that from the day he walked into the pool in 1965 he knew exactly what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. He employed and mentored young people going through the juvenile justice system and supported them when they were required to attend court. Caine applied a tough love approach, offering free membership in exchange for their honesty and respect.
Despite the fact so many people were in attendance to express their gratitude for his efforts, Caine said he was paying back the area for the way they had looked after him.
“I owe this area and the [Georges River] Council and the people of the area so much, as up until that point (taking on Carss Park Pool lease) my life was only going one way,” he said.
Georges River Council’s general manager Gail Connolly said Caine was a much-loved local icon.
“He has been an invaluable ambassador for the Kogarah community and we look forward to his continued contributions in the years ahead.”