From the country town of Horsham in Victoria to the heights of American wheelchair basketball, Jannik Blair is a star in the making.
Jannik first started playing wheelchair basketball in 2005, making his National Wheelchair Basketball League debut with the Dandenong Rangers. His form as a one-pointer caught the attention of Australian coach Ben Ettridge, and in 2009 he was selected to represent Australia at the Asia Oceania Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Dandenong.
Now central to the Rollers’ success, Jannik helped lead them to victory at the 2011 Asia Oceania Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Goyang, South Korea, and a podium finish at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, where they endured a 6-point loss to Canada in the final.
Shockingly, at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games Jannik’s Rollers were eliminated from gold medal contention in a 23-point loss to Great Britain in the quarter finals.
Country boy Jannik became a paraplegic at 12 when the ute he was driving flipped and rolled. He spent a week in an induced coma and a further three months in rehabilitation, where he was introduced to wheelchair sport by rehabilitation worker and future Paralympian Campbell Message.
Inspired by Campbell’s ability to transform his life through sport, Jannik soon began participating in wheelchair basketball and tennis, Para-table tennis and Para-triathlon, before settling on wheelchair basketball at an APC Talent Search Day in 2006.
In 2013 he accepted a scholarship with the University of Alabama, USA following a stint with the University of Missouri. He hilariously recalls that, while celebrating their national championships win that year, his shorts fell down and he was left hanging from the rim exposed in front of a packed stadium.
Outside of training and competition, Jannik enjoys playing table tennis and chess, and listening to Triple J.