Australia’s men’s Paralympic Basketball Team has been announced, with the Rollers bringing a squad ready to replicate the gold-winning performance of Beijing 2008.
The Rollers will be captained by Shaun Norris, who will represent Australia at his fifth Paralympic Games. Norris has won two World Championship titles.
“We’ve got some fairly new guys, like Tom O’Neill-Thorne and Kim Robins. We’ve got Jeremy Tyndall coming in, who gives us something new. All up, I think we have a wide array of experience mixed with some new guys who bring us some pretty big talent,” Norris said.
“Three years ago at the World Championships, we finished third, which was a good result for us after what I would say was a pretty big rebuild.
“To have another three years of experience trying to tighten things up and identifying who we are as a Team I think puts us in good stead.
“On our day I think we can win the whole thing in Tokyo. But we’ve just got to get the process right in the meantime.”
Norris added that the lack of international tournaments over since the Covid-19 pandemic began has meant there has been a lot of lost experience for his side.
“We haven’t really had any international experience over the last two years and the national league was cancelled last year and interrupted again this year. So there have been some big hurdles in regards to game experience.
“When this all started, it was hard to focus because you never knew what was happening the next week. But after a while, we came to realise that you can only think about today.
“From then on it’s just been full attack from everyone to get as prepared as possible mentally and physically.
“There’s a lot of great players who have set the Rollers’ standards and culture before us. It’s up to us, as the current-day squad, to continue that and do Australia proud.”
Australian Team Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin was excited to announce the Rollers team and wish them good luck for Tokyo 2020.
“Australia’s men’s wheelchair basketball side is one of our most successful Teams in Paralympic competition, with two gold and two silver medals since 1996,” McLoughlin said.
“I know how disappointed the Team was to miss the podium in Rio and I’m sure that will be another driving factor for them in this campaign. You only have to look at how hard they’ve worked individually and as a group to get ready for Tokyo to know that they are desperate to get back into fight for medals.
“I’d like to welcome the Rollers to the Australian Paralympic Team for Tokyo 2020 and I look forward to helping them bring out their very best at these Games.”
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Paralympics Australia Chief Executive Lynne Anderson echoed her sentiments.
“Similarly to our women’s side, the Gliders, our Rollers have shown in recent years the kind of determination and resilience that typifies what it means to be an Australian Paralympian.
“Faced with multiple obstacles, they didn’t shy away. Rather, they embraced the challenges and made the most of every opportunity.
“Thank you to Basketball Australia for their outstanding work rebuilding and preparing this Team for Tokyo. I’m so excited to be able to support them as they chase their goals.”
Wheelchair basketball was one of the foundation sports on the Paralympic program in Rome, Italy, in 1960, and remains one of the most popular sports at the Paralympic Games.
The Rollers have been incredibly successful with Silver at Athens 2004, Gold at Beijing 2008, and Silver at London 2012. They will be out for redemption after missing out on a podium finish at Rio 2016.
Tokyo 2020 Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team
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