Representing the Australian Rollers Wheelchair Basketball team in his first Paralympic games in Tokyo, Jeremy Tyndall can count himself as one of those select few.
Describing the feeling as being very special, the La Trobe Elite Athlete Program (LEAP) student acknowledged that it was a long road to reach his Tokyo goal.
“It was really surreal getting there,” Tyndall said.
“Just the atmosphere with all the other athletes and being involved (in) not just the Australian wheelchair basketball team but the whole Australian team was really cool. A great experience I'll never forget.”
The Rollers’ campaign got off to a flying start winning their first three matches to set them up for a spot in the quarter final, but ultimately fell short by one point after leading against Great Britain.
Tyndall admitted the team struggled to recover after that loss.
“We knew that our best basketball was as good as anyone else’s,” he said.
“For some unknown reason we just struggled to string four quarters together and we missed our chance to compete for a medal.
“But to finish (with) a win against Turkey was good. We finished fifth so that was one better place than the Rio performance.
“(It was) not what we wanted, but still building in the right direction.”
Despite Tyndall’s disappointment not to progress to the finals and contend for a medal, his role in the team grew throughout the Paralympics, taking on greater responsibility and assisting his team with more court time than he initially anticipated.
“From previous conversations with the coaches when I got selected, I was under the impression that I probably wasn’t going to be a big minutes guy,” Tyndall said
“I think the first three games I might’ve averaged about 15-20 mins, which is a lot more than I expected and I was pretty happy with that.”
Tyndall said that despite playing well in the beginning, the lead-up to the Games was tough. With Covid-19 restrictions in Australia, accurately determining the team's ability became difficult to assess.
“As a team it probably did affect us a little bit where we didn’t get the opportunities to play in friendly tournaments against our rival countries and sort of get a gauge on where we’re at,” Tyndall said.
“(At) 0ur training camps we were sort of just gauging off ourselves, only scrimmaging against ourselves, so it’s hard to gauge at exactly where we are at as a team.”
While the Covid-19 pandemic also meant that there were no official crowds allowed in the stands, Tyndall praised his team for the noise and encouragement they were able to generate from the bench.
“Obviously the crowd has an impact on the game and it can definitely lift you up as a player,” he said.
“But I think we had such a good core group that if we were sitting on the bench we were just as loud as the crowd, getting the guys riled up and pumping each other up.”
With the Paralympics now over, Tyndall now shifts his focus to the final semester of his Bachelor of Education (Primary) degree, which is a career he says he cannot wait to begin.
“(I’m) really excited to start working (as a teacher),” Tyndall said.
“It’s a really big achievement for me to even go to uni and get a degree. It’s something that I never really thought I would do.
“I’m really happy with myself and I’m looking forward to getting after it once I’m done.”