Golden start to a rolling career

BASKETBALL 

After narrowly missing selection for the Paralympic Games last year, Illawarra-based wheelchair basketballer Luke Pople capped off another whirlwind year by travelling with the Australian Rollers squad in a tour of Asia.

The 20-year-old played in the senior side for the first time, as the green and golds claimed back-to-back titles on the court. Australia emerged with gold in both their Asian tour competitions, including the Kitakyushu Champions Cup, the ideal start to Pople's career at the top level.

"Getting two golds is definitely a good start to my international career," he said.

"Getting picked for the Rollers is a pretty big thing. I thought I was playing quite well and I knew I was doing all the right preparation leading up to it.

"I was always surprised and excited that I got picked, but I knew that I had done the work beforehand."

Pople had played for the Australian under-23s (the Spinners) before the tour, who claimed bronze in the World Championships in Turkey earlier this year.

His impressive performance at the youth tournament prompted selectors to call him up for the senior side. He now intends to hold down his spot for the long haul.

"I just want to build now from having a good year this year to making 2014 a lot more successful," Pople said.

"With the Australian team we have the World Championships in Korea at the start of July, so it is a big tournament to train for. I am really looking forward to making that team and hopefully going to get another gold."

In the lead-up to next year's World Championships, Pople will play with the Roller Hawks for another season.

But the 2014 season playing in the Illawarra will have one major boost.

"Ben Ettridge, who coaches the Australian Rollers, has just been appointed the Roller Hawks coach. Having him down here at the Roller Hawks is going to be really beneficial for us," Pople said.

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