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 ever-modest Fearnley used his acceptance speech — which was sent by video from the United States where the 37-year-old had recently contested the Chicago marathon — to advocate for greater opportunities throughout society for people with disabilities.

"I recognise that I am the first within our Paralympic movement to hold up this prestigious award," Fearnley said.

"Sport within this country has never been about the individual, it has been about the uniform leaning.

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

Sport offers 'hope' for people with disabilities

Kurt Fearnley crosses the finish line at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast

Fearnley said that his achievements are only possible thanks to the efforts of those athletes that came before him.

"I have to point to the people behind me, to the generations of proud men and women with disabilities, who allowed me to become the person and athlete that you see fit to receive this award."

"[This] sport was born out of the backfields of rehabilitation hospitals, that was created by men and women who had the desire to see not only what was physically possible, but was humanly possible."

Fearnley also reinforced his previous messages regarding the importance of sport for people with disabilities as a vehicle for integration.

"I've heard the stories of our Paralympic forebears who speak about losing friends who felt too much shame in their experience with disability.

There was too much shame and wasn't enough hope, so our sport was born out of that hope.

"Through the medium of sport, that is what our movement represents, hope. Hope that if sport can adjust to include those with disabilities, maybe community can follow.

Kurt Fearnley smiles with a silver medal around his neck and a Commonwealth Games mascot in his hand.

"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.

The Don Award is presented annually to the sportsperson whose deeds most inspired the nation, and has previously been awarded to athletes such as Ian Thorpe, Michelle Payne, Jeff Horn and Steven Bradbury, something Fearnley acknowledged in his speech.

"I grew up with an understanding about the Don, and it was as much about integrity and humility as it was about excellence in sport." Fearnley 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 1,500m.

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

"I fundamentally believe that sport can lead this country," Fearnly said, "I believe the Paralympic movement is a jewel within the sporting crown."

Australian flag bearer Kurt Fearnley enters the stadium at Carrara

Richie Benaud honoured as Legend of Australian sport

The other seven finalists in contention for The Don Award 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.

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 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 Sport Australia Hall of Fame (SAHOF).

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

AAP/ABC

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