By Nicholas Alviani
Justin Eveson might not be a household name, but what he has achieved in sport is unmatched by most professional athletes.
At the age of 12, Eveson lost his lower leg in a machinery accident. But not to let it keep him down he took up swimming, which saw him achieve the Wheelchair Sports WA Association Junior Sports Star four years in a row between 1996 and 1999.
Eveson said he always had a passion for sport as a child.
“I’ve always been a sporty kid growing up like most Aussie kids. Sport was a vehicle to get back involved and I saw no reason to stop playing sport,” he said.
His success in swimming saw Eveson make the Australian Paralympics swimming team in 2000. In Sydney he took home a silver medal in the 4x100m medley relay and bronze in the 4x100m freestyle relay.
Despite his success at the games Eveson made a switch to basketball, something he said was more enjoyable.
“I had done swimming for a long time and I could no longer commit to the amount of training required. I enjoyed training and competing in basketball a lot more and the benefits of competing in a team sport,” Eveson said.
“It didn’t happen right away, it took a lot of hard work. The lessons I learnt in swimming, like how to be self motivated, getting up early and doing the things not everyone wants to do but you need to, to reach the pinnacle, I took that over to basketball and just went from there.”
By 2004 Eveson had found a spot in the Australian Rollers (wheelchair basketball) side and competed in the Athens Olympics, where Australia won silver after losing to Canada in the gold medal match.
In 2007 he mimicked his achievement as a junior and won the Wheelchair Sports WA Association Sports Star of the year award. He backed it up the next year sharing the award with Katrina Porter.
Four years after winning silver in Athens, the Rollers would go one better and win gold at the Beijing Olympics by getting revenge on Canada.
Eveson said the winning gold in Beijing was the highlight of his sporting career.
"Winning the gold medal was an unbelievable experience. Having the culmination of all the hard work that bad been put in over the previous seven to eight years,” he said.
“To go through with the group of guys we had there and to share it with them and to have my family there with their support. To share the success with them made all those little sacrifices that you do make over the years have meaning.”
In 2009 Eveson had the remarkable stat of being on the winning side of every tournament he took part in, something he described as, ‘I just had a great run of success.”
Currently Eveson plays for the Perth Wheelcats who won their fifth straight National Wheelchair Basketball League championship only weeks ago.
This year he is a patron for the 2010 Australian University Games and said wanted to give something back to sport.
“It was a fantastic opportunity to give back to the community of sport and to help raise the profile of Paralympic sports in the community,” Eveson said.
“Sport is just a great vehicle for any age, uni student or not, but particularly in uni it’s a great bonding and a way to let off steam at the end of the day and it compliments study perfectly.”