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Rhonda Thorne-Clayton AM (nee Shapland)

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

Rhonda Shapland was born in Toowoomba, Rhonda's family moved and she grew up in Redcliffe attending Soubirous College (1970 - 1972) and then Frawley College (1973) Leaving after year 11 to pursue a full time squash career.

Her parents Bernard Shapland and Dorothy "Tuppy" Shapland, in 1973, opened the original Shapland Swim School at 26 Hill Parade, Clontarf.

Rhonda captained Queensland from 1978-83 and won the Queensland Open for five successive years from 1978. She claimed three other state titles – the South Australian, New South Wales and Northern Territory Opens.

Queensland’s Rhonda Thorne was a force in world squash during the late 1970s and early 1980s, becoming World Champion in 1981 when she beat compatriot Vicky Cardwell in the final in Toronto, Canada.

World Open Final - 1981. Rhonda Thorne defeats Vicki Cardwell 3/2, still the longest women’s match ever recorded - 2hrs 7mins

Two years later the pair met again in the world open final but this time Cardwell was victorious in Perth.

Rhonda was at the pinnacle of her game during this period of her career and held the world No.1 ranking during both 1981 and ’82 and remained in the world’s top 10 from 1979-84. She also represented her country for seven years from 1977-84 and had the honour of captaining Australia from 1981-83, during which time the Aussies won the world team’s titles twice.

Rhonda Thorne V Martine Le Moignan - 1982.

Rhonda Thorne V Sue (Newman) King - British Open

Rhonda twice reached the British Open semi-finals, won the Australian Open in her golden year of 1981, and also took out the South African Open. In her formative years Rhonda won four Australian Junior Opens - in 1972, 74, 75 and 76.

Rhonda Thorne V Angela Smith

Her fantastic squash feats were recognised in 1985 – the year of her retirement from the game - when she was decorated with the Queensland Sportswoman of the Year award.

Since retiring, she has been inducted into the Squash Australia Hall of Fame and was an inaugural member of the Queensland Squash Hall of Fame. She was also awarded the Australian Sports Medal in 2000 recognition for her achievements.

In June 2023, Rhonda was Awarded as a Member of the Order of Australia A.M


Rhonda Thorne-Clayton (nee Shapland) is listed on the wall of the Redcliffe Wall of Fame:

A collection of portrait and information honouring the achievements of individuals who have influenced and shaped Redcliffe. The collection is in the Jetty Arcade at 139-141 Redcliffe Parade.

For a complete list of people who appear on the wall click on the following blog post:

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