Tom O’Neill Thorne is a wheelchair basketballer and Paralympian who was awarded a Scholarship within the 2015 Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship and Mentoring Program, he was paired with David Bell OAM as his Mentor.
Tom was born in Parap, Northern Territory, in 1997, with the congenital condition Arthrogryposis, which severely limits range of motion within his lower body, 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 and committed to the sport at age nine.
Tom was headhunted by the Spinning Bullets (NWBL) in 2012 and enjoyed a breakout year for the Bullets in 2013 in only his second year of professional basketball. Ongoing success secured him an invitation to the Australian Development Squad at the Australian Institute of Sport the following year. He then led the National U23 Team, the Spinners, to a bronze medal at the 2013 World Championships, and was selected in the 2014 National Team for the IWBF World Championships; the youngest member ever to do so at age 17.
In 2015, Tom was named Northern Territory Junior Sportsperson of the Year and in 2016 competed at his first Olympic Games. Just a year later, he was named Northern Territory Government Sportsperson of the Year and helped the national team to a bronze medal at the Men’s U23 World Championships, where he was named a Tournament All-Star.
A bronze medal at the Wheelchair Basketball World Championships in 2018 preceded a second Olympic appearance and Tom and the Rollers returned from Tokyo after finishing 5th.
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.
- 2015: Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship Holder.
- 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 .