Aussies on a high despite missing wheelchair basketball

The Australian wheelchair basketball team were gallant in defeat against teams from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in their second pool game of the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 presented by Jaguar Land Rover.

The four teams to contest the wheelchair basketball semi-finals on Saturday, the final day of competition, are New Zealand, USA, the Netherlands and the UK.

However, for Sonya Newman, who is based in Darwin, wheelchair basketball is about much more than the result. Not only does she love the excitement and pace of the sport she also loves its inclusivity.

‘It makes me feel like I don’t have a disability. I don’t have a disadvantage on anybody, everyone’s achieving the same thing,’ Newman said.

Currently serving in the Army, she credits sport with giving her an external focus and a channel for the sometimes-overwhelming emotions, that come with an injury. She also believes team sports like wheelchair basketball offers competitors a range of skills that can be applied to real-life situations, particularly around working constructively with teammates.

Newman spent the first three years of her daughter’s life in hospital after a routine arthroscopy resulted in a staph infection. Three total knee replacements and a fusion all failed, and ultimately led to amputation.

As well as wheelchair basketball, she also competed in sitting volleyball and in swimming where she won four individual gold medals.

Preparing for IG2018 has meant that she’s had to spend considerable time away from her family so it has been ‘beyond important’ for them to be here, cheering her on. Her favourite memory will undoubtedly be her young children joining her on the podium after winning gold in the pool.

Julie Parry-Barwick
Invictus Games Sydney 2018