The suspension of sport amid the coronavirus crisis has given the Advertiser the opportunity to look back at some of the region’s finest sporting talent from yesteryear. In week five of our Great Southern guns – blasts from the past series, we profile Australian Diamonds player Diane Martin from Albany. Only one person from the Albany Netball Association has ever reached the pinnacle of the sport and represented her country — brilliant wing defender Diane Martin (nee Jackson). Her career began in the humble surrounds of the old outdoor netball courts at North Road and she progressed to pull on the green and gold for Australia against cross-Tasman rivals New Zealand in Auckland in 1982 in a three-Test series. Martin was recognised for representing Australia at the highest level by Netball Australia in 2016 with her family receiving the special Australian Netball Diamond Player Pendant. Arguably Albany’s greatest netballer, she unfortunately lost her battle with cancer in September 2013. She was the 83rd player to play for the Diamonds and played one Test match on July 10, 1982 at the age of 23. The wing defender had a career full of achievements which first started when she was representing her primary and high school in Albany all the way up to playing at the highest level. In her outstanding netball career, Martin won two consecutive R&I medals as the fairest and best player for the WA open team at the national championships in 1978 and 1979, ahead of players such as Jill McIntosh, and was a highly decorated State player that won a third R&I Medal in 1982. Her fairest and best players awards at both club and association level in her juniors are simply too many to mention. The humble sportsperson also was crowned the fairest and best player for Bedford’s A1 WANA premiership team in 1978 and 1980. In 1982 she was awarded the Albany Sportsperson of the Year award for her excellence in netball. She was selected in the under-21 WA State team in 1977 and 1978 before being picked to represent WA in the senior team in Melbourne in 1979 and 1980. In 1981, Martin was the inaugural Australian Institute of Sport netball scholarship recipient. She was then a member of the Australian Institute of Sport team at the Pan Am World Invitation Netball Tournament in Hawaii. Former ANA president Julia Miller said Martin was a genuine star. “Diane was an outstanding player who always gave 150 per cent,” Miller said. “She was skilled to almost perfection. “She was a true team player and was always ready to help those around her to improve. “Watching Diane play was a pleasure, she really had something special. “I don’t think Diane ever realised just how inspiring and talented she really was.” When she returned from her international debut with the Diamonds in New Zealand, she played club netball with Royals Saints back home in Albany in 1983. Martin played for her local club and representative ANA teams while she also contributed as a coach at all levels of netball, from juniors to seniors and regional teams, including the Denmark association. In 2000 she was presented with the Australian Sports Medal, recognising her achievements in Australian sport. A talented sportswoman, Martin made the State schoolgirls athletics team and played State 16s and 18s basketball. Her legacy continues to live on with the current ANA A1 premiership trophy renamed to the Diane Martin (Jackson) premiership trophy. Her two sisters, Christine Tozer and Jenny Jackson, were also talented netball players and sportspeople. Tozer said her sister was her hero. “I looked up to Diane as my big sister, and learnt a lot of my sporting skills from observing her in play,” she said. “I’m very proud to be her sister. “Diane was a true champion and friend, not only to our siblings but to anyone fortunate to play alongside her. “She always displayed good sportsmanship and grace.” Jackson said she had fond memories of her champion sister. “She just had a natural talent in all sports she played,” she said. “We were more proud of her achievements than she was. She was very humble.” Martin’s sporting ability has been passed down through generations with her daughter, Tasha Burnside winning a Michelle Parsons award as the best ANA A1 player while her other daughter Kelly Flett played State basketball.