WHEELCHAIR basketball star Thomas McHugh is dominating the sport with a little help from continued sponsorship.
The youngest on the Perth Wheelcats state wheelchair basketball team, the 16-year-old Aveley resident has claimed almost as many achievements as his years including two bronze medals for Australia, an invitation to join the Australian paralympic team and an offer to join the Singapore international team.
Thomas said the $4000 Variety scholarship would help buy a new wheelchair and help him get to Alabama in the United States for training.
“I’m so very grateful to Variety,” he said.
“It will help towards getting a new chair and paying for my travel to tournaments.
“Variety has given me the inspiration to step up my game.”
When told he had achieved so much for his age, Thomas said he had “way more to accomplish”.
Those goals include playing in the under 23’s Australian squad at the World Cup in Germany in August and to play for Australia at the 2020 paralympics in Japan and beyond.
Thomas has a bone disorder that has progressively deteriorated his ankle bones since birth causing pain that prevents him walking long distances.
He spends six-days-a-week and three-nights-a-week training with the Wheelcats and coaching the WA under 23’s team.
“I always wanted to be an AFL player but with my disability it was too hard,” he said.
“I was suggested wheelchair basketball by a friend, as soon as I hopped into a chair and scored that first goal I just really wanted to keep doing it.
“Wheelchair basketball has been an ongoing passion, regardless of how early it is, 4am, or 12 midnight I have drive and want to get up and train.”
He said he had a few memorable moments but particularly enjoyed playing with Paralympian Shaun Norris.
Variety, the Children’s Charity awarded 31 talented young people Variety Heart Scholarships at a celebration evening on April 6.
By Claire Ottaviano