Australian veterinary surgeon and technical diver
Craig Challen, OAM (Gen) is an Australian technical diver and cave explorer who played a substantial role in the Tham Luang cave rescue. He was the recipient of the Oztek 2009 Diver of the Year award for his services to caving, and was joint winner of the 2019 Australian of the Year.
He grew up in the Perth suburb of Thornlie and later on a 200 ha (500 acres) farming property in Gidgegannup; he attended Eastern Hills Senior High School in Mount Helena, near Gidgegannup. A veterinary surgeon by profession, Challen has made notable dives in Cocklebiddy Cave and Pearse Resurgence. In 2010 he made a record-setting 194 m (636 ft) dive while caving in New Zealand. In 2020 he made a second record-setting return visit to the Pearse Resurgence (New Zealand) and extended the Australasian depth record to 245 m (804 ft) with his dive partner Richard Harris.
In 2018 Challen, along with his dive partner Richard Harris, was involved in a cave rescue operation in Thailand to evacuate 12 children and an adult from the flooded Tham Luang Cave system. On 24 July 2018, Challen was awarded the Star of Courage (SC) and Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) by the Governor-General of Australia for his role in the rescue. On 7 September 2018 the King of Thailand appointed Challen as a Knight Grand Cross (First Class) of the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn.
He is the joint-winner of the 2019 Australian of the Year award with fellow diver Richard Harris, and 2019 Western Australian of the Year.