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Newcastle Herald

Bright basketballer to hand out lesson

Date: 16/10/2000
Words: 302
          Publication: Newcastle Herald
Section: Supplement
Page: 29
Name: Liesl Tesch.

Age: 31.

Lives: Wamberal.

Sport: Wheelchair basketball.

WHEELCHAIR basketballer Liesl Tesch promises she will stand out on the court for reasons other than her brightly coloured hair.

So enthused is the Berkeley Vale High School teacher about competing for Australia that she decided to dye her hair green for the Paralympic Games.

`Once you have had green hair, there is no going back,' the aggressive centre-forward said. `I promise it won't be the only thing you notice on the court.'

Tesch was named vice-captain of the Australian team for the Paralympics. She will be well supported by a cheer squad of students at her first game on Friday.

`The kids are so excellent,' she said. `They really want us to do well.'

In 1988, while cycling home from a friend's house, she fell from her bike and her life changed forever.

Her spinal cord was injured and she woke up in hospital two weeks later to the news she would never walk again. She proved the doctors wrong and regained some movement in her legs and is now a partial paraplegic. She can walk short distances and stands while teaching geography and business studies.

Always a basketballer, she was a State representative player while in Years 11 and 12 at Toronto High School.

She later took up wheelchair basketball and, at her best, can pull off a 16-point game.

`I fell in love with the sport,' she said.

She played at the Barcelona and Atlanta Paralympics, as did many in the current Australian team.

`We are pretty experienced,' she said.

`In the recent Slam Down Under series we beat the Canadians three times out of five and they were unbeaten before that.

`We are really, really ready to go.'

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