Sport

Sports college for ex refugee

Lismore basketball player Gabriel Thiongkol is off to the Australian College of Basketball.
Lismore basketball player Gabriel Thiongkol is off to the Australian College of Basketball. Jacklyn Wagner

A FAMOUS man once said you can have all the talent in the world, but nothing can take the place of persistence.

When Lismore's Gabriel Thiongkol starts his two-year stint at the Australian College of Basketball in Melbourne next week, it's that quality which will set him apart from his peers.

The ex-Sudanese refugee has finally scored a scholarship at the college after being spotted by talent scouts.

The move will set him up for a potential pro career in the game and he'll finally have his own coach after years training solo.

A born athlete, the 22-year-old learnt the game in the refugee camps of Kenya. He played soccer as well, but an endless growth spurt that saw him shoot to a towering height made basketball the obvious choice.

His mother's determination got him and his three siblings on a plane to Australia six years ago, but she fell ill and died during the slow wait for a humanitarian visa.

When he was trialled for a lifeguard job at the Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre in 2009, he could barely swim properly, but vowed to learn freestyle to get the job.

Unlike many of us who spend years at swimming school, he mastered the technique within a month.

He is as competitive as he is determined, but it's all about improving his skills rather than worrying about others.

"I don't like to lose, but it's all about teamwork," he said.

"Playing in the game I feel really free, it's a really beautiful challenge."

GSAC manager Graham Walker said Gabriel was a true inspiration.

"He's worked so hard for this and given his background and the struggles he's been through, it's quite amazing he's persevered to this level."

Topics:  refugee




Join the Community.

Get your local news, your way.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

FAIR GO: A tale of two babies

Jeremy and Stacey Billett with their one-week-old baby Charlotte Jeanette Billett at their home in Ilarwill.

Country babies lose out to their city cousins

Tenderer announced for new Harwood bridge

APPROVED: Chris Gulaptis and Duncan Gay (right) congratulate approved tenderers for the Harwood bridge project, Acciona Ferrovial Joint Venture.

New Clarence River crossing to remove notorious traffic hotspot

$500 camera for plunge winner: help us decide

VOTE for the best Instagram #cvcplunge2016 photo.

Latest deals and offers

Grafton City SES Training

Grafton SES unit controller Adam Jarrett explains the process involved in being an...

British family bashed in Thailand

Family beaten and kicked unconscious by gang in Thailand.

Family beaten and kicked unconscious by gang in Thailand.

Ben Hunt wary of Sharks Halfback

Ben Hunt of the Broncos looks to pass during the round 23 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Suncorp Stadium.

Ben Hunt talks about Cronulla's Chad Townsend.

How a sacked real estate agent made $725k in four months

Agent is now under investigation by the industry watchdog

VIDEO: Art Deco fan pays $835,000 for Imperial Hotel

No Caption

Iconic "Impy" sold at a bargan price to bidder who loves Art Deco.

RBA warns of future apartment oversupply

Toowoomba: Crest Apartments and Burke & Wills, Ruthven Street ( view from Neil Street) Photo Bev Lacey / The Chronicle

RBA says oversupply of apartments poses risk to household finances