LEAP Spinners claim bronze at U/23 World Champs

For teenage La Trobe student athletes Jeremy Tyndall and Jontee Brown, winning a bronze medal at last month’s Under 23 Wheelchair Basketball World Cup was a dream come true.

The duo featured prominently over the nine day competition in Ontario, Canada, starting in most of the Australian Spinner’s eight matches to finish third among a twelve team pool.

Both Tyndall and Brown played sport as kids but after Tyndall became a T10 paraplegic and Brown a sufferer of reactive arthritis, the pair discovered a passion for wheelchair basketball as a way to continue participating in sport.

“It was actually through my nan,” said Tyndall. She’d seen Dylan Alcott, who’s probably one of the most recognizable wheelchair athletes in Australia, on TV.”

“Then there was a day in rehab when one of the Australian wheelchair players was training. We shot around for a while and he said it was a great sport to get into so from there I thought I’d try it out.”

Since taking up the sport, both men have also gone onto study teaching degrees at La Trobe and believe that being a part of La Trobe’s Elite Athlete Program (LEAP) allowed them to compete at the U23 Wheelchair Basketball World Cup in Canada.

“La Trobe has been a massive help. I’ve obviously had to head overseas so they’ve been able to support me in moving my exams and timetables to suit my training schedule,” Brown said.

“Being a member of LEAP I know I’ve always got that support behind me to be able to chase my sporting goals and it really verified for me that I was able to study and play elite level sport at the same time.”

Tyndall was confined to a wheelchair after crashing at the Junior Motocross Championships in 2012 while Brown uses crutches to walk and a wheelchair to play sport following a fall overseas.

Tyndall describes his recovery as a long process but says the transition to life in a wheelchair wasn’t as tough as many might think.

“I was in and out of hospital and rehab for about three months. It wasn’t actually as bad as I thought it would be and that’s maybe because I wasn’t fully aware of what had happened at the start,” Tyndall said.

“I guess you have your moments, but I had some great people around me and I think you’ve just got to keep pushing on and eventually you get used to it.”

For Brown, the effects of his accident have really come to the forefront in the last twelve months.

“There was a period of time after my accident where I could walk but within the last year it’s gone downhill to the point where I can’t walk without crutches anymore,” Brown said.

“I’m focusing on continuing to improve my game for the national league season throughout the year.”

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