Barton in class of his own in hall of fame

Maitland sporting legend Garry Barton is set to receive a rare honour from the Australian Waterski and Wakeboard Federation hall of fame.

The AWWF has announced former barefoot skiing star Barton will be inducted as a pioneer of the sport at a special ceremony in Melbourne in March to coincide with the Moomba Waterskiing Festival.

Barton, 74, who was one of the inaugural AWWF Hall of Fame inductees as a competitor, said he was shocked and very humbled when he heard of the his nomination as the first member of the new pioneer category.

“The nomination came from the committee itself, it is very humbling and a bit of a shock to be considered for such an honour,” he said.

“The hall of fame inductions will take place at the Crowne Casino to coincide with Moomba so there will be a who’s who of people from waterskiiing there.

“I suppose I was a pioneer as we were all starting out at the same level and were finding out what you could and couldn’t do and writing the rule book at the same time,” Barton, who took up the sport in 1964 aged 17, said.

Just six years after starting he broke the first of four world records with a backwards endurance effort of 12 minutes and 50 seconds on the Williams River at Clarence Town. 

Barton claimed national titles in Australia, Canada and the US and was ­regarded as an unofficial world champion prior to the introduction of official world championships in the late 1970s.

He also went on to coach, appeared in commercials and starred in promotional shows after helping pioneer the sport in its infancy. 

But missing out on a world title has ruled him out to date of being inducted into the International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation hall of fame.

“Maybe this award as a pioneer will make a difference. It’s funny there’s even a group called the Garry Barton. Barefoot Pioneer. Let’s support him on Facebook which keeps on pressing for me to be inducted into the international hall of fame,” he said.

The Facebook page has more than 4600 followers from around the world including fellow Maitland sporting legend Brian Burke, who said Barton more than deserved his latest recognition.

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