Horsham basketballer eyes gold in Rio

HORSHAM wheelchair basketballer Jannik Blair has vowed his dream of winning a Paralympic Games gold medal is not lost.

Blair, 20, returned to his home town this week after winning a silver medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London earlier this month.

Blair said he would use a six-point loss to Canada in the gold medal match as motivation to go one better at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

"After coming away with a silver medal, we will be all the more hungrier to get gold in Rio," he said.

"The feeling we had after we lost the final is something I don't want to go through again.

"We'll make sure we get gold in Rio."

Blair admitted winning a silver medal was initially met with disappointment.

"We were favourites going into the match, which made it even harder to come away with a silver," he said.

"That it was so close was the worst thing, because as soon as the match is over you play through all the little things in your head you did wrong and wonder what would have happened if you had played a better shot there or played some better defence here.

"We were pretty flat for a while after."

Blair said the initial disappointment had now faded and he was proud of his result.

"It's good to come away with something and everyone is still so positive and upbeat about winning the silver," he said.

Blair deemed representing Australia at the Games a great learning experience.

"That is one of the positives you take away from a loss like that," he said.

He said he would forever hold fond memories of the Games.

"All of our matches were sold out," he said.

"The experience was phenomenal, even basketball aside the experience was life-changing.

"Just living in the athlete's village and meeting people from different backgrounds, different disabilities and different sports. The variety is something I won't see again until Rio."

Blair has been spending time with family and friends since returning to Horsham.

"It feels good to be back to a bit of normality and see all my friends and family and people who were supporting me," he said.

He will be honoured at a Horsham Rural City Council civic reception at the council offices at 5pm today.

"I'm looking forward to it. It is very humbling for the community to want to say thank-you to me," he said.

Blair said the support from the Wimmera community had been overwhelming.

"It blew me away," he said.

"It really hits home about how big what I was doing was, and how much of an impact it was having on the people back home.

"It was something more to play for, if there wasn't enough already."

Blair plans to return to the United States of America in January, where he will resume his studies at the University of Missouri.

He had deferred his study to prepare for the Paralympic Games.

"I've got a couple of months now to live a normal life then it'll be back to college," he said.

Blair will then begin preparations for the 2014 World Wheelchair Championships in Goyang City, South Korea.

"We don't have any national team commitments until mid next year, then it will be a lot of travelling back and forth and beginning the process all again," he said.

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