Tom O’Neill-Thorne Shoots for World Champs

Local sporting hero Tom O’Neill-Thorne will be heading to Japan tomorrow 10 November to compete for Australia in the Junior U23’s Wheelchair Basketball invitational tournament.

The Nightcliff star who recently returned from the Rio Paralympics said that whilst the Games where truly a world class event he was ready for the upcoming round of competition.

“I’m feeling really good, I have been training with the Northern Territory Institute of Sport (NTIS) team and my personal coach, I’m keen to make an impact,” Mr O’Neill-Thorne said.

It was a very proud moment for parents Janelle and Robert Thorne and his sister Sam to be present when Tom represented Australia at the Rio Paralympics.

“We always knew Tom would do something special with regards to sport as he has always kept a keen interest and even put his hand up for soccer, cricket and tennis in his younger years despite the hurdles he had to overcome,” said Mr Thorne.

“He always wanted to be one of those individuals and during that time he always kept his inner discipline of forever learning, having fun and most importantly showing respect. These are the qualities we admire most about Tom.”

Tom’s story so far is quite long and involves a lot of very special individuals and sporting organisations that encouraged and guided him through this long road to success.

O’Neill-Thorne secured his NTIS scholarship of June 2011 and over the years worked closely with NTIS staff Alan Culbertson, Tadek Rudz on his physical development and with Dr Liz Grylls on sport psychology and career development.

Tom’s commitment and high standards have reaped many rewards along the way which include:

  • Bronze Medal at the IWBF U23 Men's World Wheelchair Basketball Championships, in 2013
  • Gold Medal with the Australian Rollers Men's Wheelchair Basketball team at the 2014 IWBF World Wheelchair Basketball Championships
  • Gold Medal at the Asia Oceania Zone Pre-Olympic Qualifying tournament in 2015
  • Selection and representing Australia at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.

Personal basketball coach Trudie Hopgood said she initially started working with Tom two years ago, and found him to be the most highly motivated, self-determined, hardworking athlete that she had met.

“He is a good guy who is both humble and incredibly positive,” said Ms Hopgood.

“He is also an intelligent athlete who has embraced the opportunity to work with a coach from able-bodied basketball that can challenge him to think outside the box (current convention), and truly test his limits.

“Tom is on track to not only achieve world-class status but to perhaps challenge the way the game is currently played in Australia. He's one to watch.”

For Tom his dream of representing Australia was realised during the Rio Paralympics but his burning desire continues as he sets his sights on the 2017 Bangkok Junior World Championship qualifiers and the Hamburg Wheelchair Basketball World Championships in 2018.

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Last updated: 28 November 2017