Illawarra Mercury

2004: Brendan Dowler and Tristan Knowles (wheelchair basketball)

Date: 03/02/2011
Words: 321
Source: ILL
          Publication: Illawarra Mercury
Section: Supplement
Page: 9
ATHENS Paralympians Brendan Dowler and Tristan Knowles were the toast of Wollongong's sporting community after capturing the 2004 Illawarra Mercury Sports Star of the Year Award at the Novotel Northbeach.

The pair helped the Australian Rollers claim a silver medal in Athens and were popular winners of the annual event.

Both key members of the Wollongong Roller Hawks 2003 national championship-winning side, Dowler and Knowles immediately set their sights on being part of Australia's medal quest in Beijing in 2008.

Dowler, 37, was first chosen in the Australian team in 1995 and narrowly missed Paralympic selection in 2000. He was voted NSW Wheelchair Basketballer of the Year in 2002 and named in the NWBL All-star Five in 2003.

Knowles was first picked for the national squad in 2001 and, like Dowler, made his Paralympic debut in Athens.

"Being my first Paralympics, it was awesome to come away with a silver medal," Knowles said on the day the Rollers returned from Athens.

"I didn't play a hell of a lot, but I learned a lot while I was over there and I'm pretty pumped about trying to play in the next two or three Paralympics.

"When I had a chat with the Australian coach in 2001 I was thinking I'd be too young and inexperienced to make it to Athens.

"After making it this year, I'm more determined than ever to go to Beijing."

Australia lost the Paralympics final to gold medal favourites Canada 70-53.

"Winning a gold medal was our ultimate goal, but our aim was to get a medal and we could've done a lot worse than silver," Dowler told the Mercury at the time.

"Canada are the benchmark. They've only lost twice in the last six years.

"When the final came around, we had the confidence and belief we could beat them.

"There was mixed feelings at first because we missed the gold, but we did as well as we could and we're pretty proud of the silver medal."

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