Tom O’Neill Thorne was awarded a Scholarship within the 2015 Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship and Mentoring Program and was paired with athlete Member David Bell OAM as his mentor.
Hailing from Parap, a small inner suburb of Darwin, Northern Territory, Tom was born on April 8, 1997 where he was introduced to the sport of wheelchair basketball at the age of nine. Tom was born with the congenital condition Arthrogryposis, which severely limits his range of motion within his lower body thus leaving him unable to fully extend or contract his joints. Confined to a wheelchair from the age of two, Tom found harmony in wheelchair basketball at a local Darwin junior competition for children where his promising on-court display led him to pursue the sport further.
As his skills increased as fast as his domestic profile, Tom was headhunted by Queensland’s State team the Spinning Bullets (NWBL) where he earnt a starting position in 2012. Tom developed into a centrepiece of Queensland’s offense, enjoying a breakout year for the Bullets in 2013 where he averaged 17.1 points per game as a 16-year-old only in his second year of professional basketball. The adopted son of Queensland’s wheelchair basketball program was so talented he secured himself an invitation to the Australian Development Squad at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra the following year. This resulted in him leading the National U23 Team, the Spinners, to a bronze medal at the 2013 World Championships, inclusion in the 2014 National Team for the IWBF World Championships; the youngest member ever to do so at the age of 17, and being widely labelled as the future of wheelchair basketball in Australia.
In the Wake Of his rapid rise to the top, the classy guard has also completed his level 1 referee course which enables him to umpire both wheelchair and able-bodied basketball. Tom has also been recognised by his home state for his outstanding contribution and output to wheelchair basketball, awarding him as junior and open aged sportsperson in his already illustrious career. Under the watchful eye of internationally recognised coach Tom Kyle, Tom O’Neill Thorne continues to develop his skills in hope of further enhancing his list of personal and team accolades.
In 2021, Tom competed at his second Paralympic Games, Tokyo 2020, where the Rollers placed fifth.
Awards, Honours & Achievements
- 2012: NWBL Debut, Spinning Bullets
- 2012: Fazza International Wheelchair Basketball Tournament – gold
- 2013: National Wheelchair Basketball League – bronze
- 2013: U23 Wheelchair Basketball Junior World Championship – bronze
- 2013: Northern Territory Junior Sportsperson of the Year
- 2014: Basketball Australia Male Junior Wheelchair Basketball Player of the Year
- 2014: Wheelchair Basketball World Championships – gold
- 2015: Northern Territory Junior Sportsperson of the Year
- 2016: Rio De Janeiro Paralympic Games – participant
- 2017: Northern Territory Government Sportsperson of the Year
- 2017: Men’s U23 World Championship – bronze
- 2017: Men’s U23 World Championship – tournament All-Star
- 2018: Wheelchair Basketball World Championships – bronze
- 2020 (2021): Tokyo Paralympic Games – 5th