Roller Hawks player and London Paralympics silver medallist Brett Stibners was hailed as an "outstanding athlete" and an inspiration to others, at a Shellharbour City Council ceremony yesterday.
In recognition of his 10 years of achievements - including a gold medal at the Beijing Paralympics and medals in several world championships - the 33-year-old wheelchair basketball champion was given a civic reception by Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba.
" 'Thanks' doesn't really cut it on so many levels," he told friends and family at the ceremony.
"Shellharbour really is a community and the people here are the reason I started playing wheelchair basketball after my accident."
Stibners lost his left leg in a fatigue-related car accident on Picton Road in 2001 and was convinced to join the Roller Hawks soon afterwards.
He first played for Australia at the world championships in 2006.
He said winning silver in London - his final stint playing with the Australian team - was "bitter-sweet because you get a medal for losing in the last game, which is really odd".
"But we were undefeated all the way through and so was [gold medal winning team] Canada ... and only those two countries have won a gold medal in the last five Paralympics," he said.
Stibners said he expected to have a long career with the Roller Hawks and would head to Japan with the team next week to represent the Oceania region at the world club championships.
"I just love playing and that's why I've gone on to play for Australia - because I just love competing against the best in the world," Stibners said.
Cr Saliba said she had been following the wheelchair athlete's career for several years and he was a role model for the community.
"Only four years ago, Brett was given a key to the city for playing a crucial role in the Australian basketball team taking out gold at Beijing, and he certainly came close to doing that again this year, in what some have said was the best game in the competition.
"No sportsperson stands alone in what they do and is able to reach such spectacular heights without the support of their community. I know that Brett continues to give plenty in return."