TOM O’Neill-Thorne added a gold medal to his growing cabinet when the young wheelchair basketball star, with strong links to Manilla, helped his Australian side win the recent 2014 International Wheelchair Basketball Federation World Championship in Korea.
O’Neill Thorne’s Aussie Rollers beat Sweden, Italy, Germany, Columbia, Turkey and Korea in lead-up games while losing to the USA.
They met the US again in the final and won 63-58.
O’Neill-Thorne, 17, resides in Darwin.
He is the son of ex-Manilla locals Robert and Janelle Thorne.
They moved from Manilla around a decade a go, living in Alice Springs, Queensland, Gove and then settling in Darwin where Tom is in Year 11.
His grandparents Jo and Bunny Thorne and Nola and the late Johnny O’Neill still live in Manilla with aunts and uncles Shane and Leanne Byrnes, Monica and Matt Tarlington and Garry O’Neill as well as his special great grandmother, Merc Veness.
Another grandmother, Judith Thorne, lives in Lismore.
“We are all extremely proud of his exploits,” Jo Thorne said.
“At just 17, Tom is the youngest player ever to be chosen in the Australian men’s wheelchair basketball team – The Aussie Rollers.
“Shortly before leaving for Korea, Tom was named the Australian Wheelchair Men’s Basketball Player of the year for 2013 – a great honour.
“While he lives in Darwin, he plays in the National League for Queensland Spinning Bullets.
He was also named the Northern Territory’s junior sportstar of the year.
“Last year he went to Turkey with the Australian Under 23 wheelchair side and won bronze at the World Under 23 titles,” Thorne said.
“He’s a very dedicated young man.
“He played soccer until he was six and plays cricket and tennis as well as being an A Grade basketball referee.
“His sister, Sam, has also been a wonderful help, driving him to all his games until recently when he taught himself to drive.”