Horsham's Jannik Blair named in Australian Rollers team for world champs

CHOSEN: Horsham wheelchair basketballer Jannik Blair will play in the  2014 IWBF World Championships in South Korea. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI

CHOSEN: Horsham wheelchair basketballer Jannik Blair will play in the 2014 IWBF World Championships in South Korea. Picture: SAMANTHA CAMARRI

HORSHAM wheelchair basketballer Jannik Blair has been named in the Australian Rollers team for the 2014 IWBF World Championships in South Korea.

Blair, 22, was officially announced as a squad member on Wednesday.

The 12-man squad contains eight players, including Blair, who were part of the Rollers' silver-medal campaign at the London 2012 Paralympics.

He said each member of the team had been focused on redemption after losing in the gold medal match.

"It feels like it has been a long time coming since London," Blair said.

"Since then our goal has been to defend our gold medal from 2010 and maintain the number one world ranking."

The Rollers are in the same pool as Germany, Sweden and Italy in the preliminary round. Blair said the US and Great

Britain were shaping up as Australia's biggest challengers, but other teams such as Turkey, Spain and Germany were capable of an upset.

He said the team would remain confident no matter which country it faced.

"We just finished our final selection and preparation camp on Sunday, and the atmosphere and the form of the group was really good," he said.

"Everyone is feeling confident heading in and the preparation has been fantastic.

"We're very aware of the other threats, but happy with how we've been going."

It has been another big year for Blair, who was named in the National Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball All-American team after a strong season with Alabama Crimson Tide.

He won a national championship with the Crimson Tide in 2013 and captained the Australian under-23 men's team to a bronze medal at the under-23 world championships in Turkey.

Blair was the youngest member of the Australian squad at the last world championships in 2010.

He said he would have a much bigger role on this year's team as it prepared to defend its title.

"After a strong tournament in London and captaining at the under-23 worlds, I'm looking to do my part and be a leader for the younger guys as much as I can," Blair said.

"I've still got a lot to learn from the more experienced guys on the team, so I'll be somewhere in the middle in terms of experience."

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