Having narrowly missed out on selection for London 2012, Melbourne local Shawn Russell has his sights set on making his Paralympic debut a gold medal winning experience.
Born with a limb deficiency in his right leg meaning one was shorter than the other, Shawn was sixteen when he made the decision to have his leg amputated. While recovering in hospital, wheelchair basketball pioneer Eino Okkonen paid him a visit and encouraged the teenager to give the sport a try. While initially reluctant, Shawn was eventually convinced and attended a Wollongong Roller Hawks training session. From that moment, he was hooked.
Shawn first represented Australia at the FisBIT Games in Kuala Lumpur in 2007, and was again selected to play for Australia at the Under 23 World Championships in Paris, where the team finished fourth. In the same year, Shawn made his debut for the Rollers at the 2009 IWBF Asia Oceania Championships and experienced his first gold medal moment.
Since then, he has spent considerable time shooting hoops in Europe, rating his time playing in the 2010/11 Spanish League season and has won two NWBL Championship titles with the Wollongong Roller Hawks. He says triumphing in the 2011 championship to break Perth’s domination of the competition is his career highlight to date. Since relocating to Victoria, he has played for the Kilsyth Cobras.
While Shawn hasn’t yet played at a World Championships or Paralympic Games, he has carved out a place within the Rollers having competed at the 2015 IWBF Asia Oceania Zonals where the team secured their spot for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Known as ‘The Huss’ by his teammates, Shawn credits Eino Okkonen, Troy Sachs and Tristan Knowles as three key athletes who have shaped his career to date. He also believes that his sporting hero Michael Jordan has provided him with inspiration to get to the point he has, because of his strength in shaping how the game is played and hopes to emulate his lengthy and illustrious career.
In his spare time, Shawn likes to follow the NBA, citing Orlando Magic as his team of choice and he also enjoys playing gold. He likes to wind down by going to the movies and got plenty of laughs out of the Hangover Part Two.
In ten years time, he hopes to have represented Australia at a Paralympic Games, and have started a family of his own. Shawn is also qualified in the metal work industry, having completed a TAFE course in Fitting and Turning in 2009.