PhD student and Paralympian
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Two time Paralympian Sarah Stewart speaks with Kristina Mah from Women in Focus about wheelchair basketball and study.

A Wheelchair Sports NSW basketball roadshow came to University and I thought I’d go along. I was reading Harry Potter at the time, and from the moment I jumped in the basketball chair and started playing it felt like Quidditch on wheels! I’ve been playing ever since.

Like a lot of Aussies, I’ve always loved sport. I love training hard and pushing myself to keep improving. I am honoured to be competing for selection for the London Paralympics and maybe get the chance to compete at my third Games - there is nothing like the feeling of putting on the green and gold and representing Australia.

During a typical day I go to university to complete my PhD in Philosophy and train. In the mornings I do my university work, individual on-court skills sessions and cross –training, in the afternoon I do university work and weights, and in the evening I train with one of the teams I’m on, or as part of the NSWIS squad. I play for the Sydney University Flames and Sydney University WheelKings.

I am constantly amazed and impressed by the capacity of the people I have met through wheelchair basketball. They have faced the most incredible obstacles but carry on with their lives and create new dreams for themselves. The world can be a beautiful place and it can be a cruel place, and in the face of such cruelty to still find the beauty there is in itself a beautiful thing. Witnessing people actively searching for, and admiring, beauty in the world is a constant source of inspiration to me.

Education and sport make good partners. I feel like I benefit from having more than just one thing in my life. Studying philosophy has helped me think outside the box, and that’s helped me with basketball, both with the way I train and play on court.

Sport gives me appreciation for the value of time. You train hard in basketball and you only have until the end of each game to give it all you’ve got. With my PhD work it can be hard to appreciate the work I’ve done and with being okay to publish it because it’s an ongoing project. I’ve learnt to reflect on the work I’ve done and share it with others, instead of constantly thinking it can be better with more time.

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Congratulations on your achievements to date Sarah. It sounds like a busy schedule!