Jannik rolls into college life

HORSHAM wheelchair basketballer Jannik Blair has settled into American life, having completed his first semester at University of Missouri.

Blair, 19 next month, moved to the United States in August to take up a basketball scholarship with the university.

The Australian Rollers representative returned home to Horsham during the Christmas break before flying back to America yesterday.

"It's going really well. The first semester I got a good chance to experience American culture and way of life," Blair said.

"It's been a good experience. It was tough leaving family and friends behind but I am glad I made the decision."

Blair said he was training everyday with the Missouri Tigers wheelchair basketball team and playing in front of bumper crowds of up to 400 people.

"The American college system in terms of sport is huge," he said.

"A lot of guys don't know much about wheelchair basketball but here we have a basketball team and we get crowds of 300 to 400 people.

"They are all about supporting the college.

"Everyone is patriotic about their school. It is the same in high school over there.

"Here it is about club sport."

Blair said his game had benefited from extended training and regular minutes.

"We practice every morning for two and a half hours so it's improving my game," Blair said.

"I have been starting all the games and playing fairly good minutes. I'd be averaging 10 or 12 points a game.

"We usually play two or three games a week.

"I am hoping the college and constant playing and training with the team will help me consolidate my spot in the Australian team."

Blair said there was an Australian Rollers selection camp in Italy in April.

He said the Rollers Road Challenge in Sydney, Arafura Games in Darwin in May and 2012 London Paralympic Games IWBF Asia Oceania Qualification Tournament in September in South Korea were all on his list of possible achievements.

"I hope to impress at the selection camp to make those other tournaments," Blair said.

"If all goes to plan it should be a pretty big year."

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