Josh Cleary had never played basketball until he turned 18.
Introduced to the sport by a friend, Cleary discovered his passion with the encouragement of Tasmanian Ivor Burge coach Odette Seabourne and soon made his way into the state team.
Last month the 30-year-old returned to Launceston as skipper of a silver medal-winning Australian team at the INAS Games in Brisbane.
"It was a huge honour - I did not see it coming," the former Queechy High and Newstead College student said of the captaincy.
"I was voted by my teammates and coaches for the honour - I never expected it but it was really awesome.
"To do it on home soil in front of friends and family with really good teammates around me ... it was a great feeling."
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Australia recorded two comfortable wins over France and Poland - defeating the former for the first time ever - and went 1-1 with group winner Portugal to finish the pool stage in second spot.
A 44-point win over France in the semi-final not only marked the hosts' best game of the tournament, but also booked a spot in the decider against Portugal.
Playing in front of a crowd of 2120, Cleary's Boomerangs won the final term 29-11 but lost the match 94-68.
"We were so nervous to start the game," Cleary said.
"From the third quarter onwards we pretty much dominated the game, we just didn't show up the first two quarters but we're a young team and we've only been together 18 months.
'Had you said we were going to win a silver medal to us before that, you would have been kidding because we never thought it was possible to play off even for a gold medal - it's the first time in our history we've ever done that in about 25 or 26 years.
"They were too good unfortunately on this occasion but we're looking forward to getting back there in a couple of years and hopefully play them again and beat them."
ELSEWHERE IN SPORT
Cleary is already back training at Elphin Sports Centre in preparation for another Ivor Burge tournament in Canberra in February.
The Officeworks employee will then await another call-up to the Australian training squad ahead of the next INAS Games in 2023.
"To get this far it's all thanks to your friends and family, you can't really do it without them - especially family and coaches," Cleary said.
"Brad Kann has been sensational for me with my development and my head coach Julia Walsh with the Australian team and Odette Seabourne with the Tasmanian team.
"There's so many people that a lot of people don't see do little parts that come together to help make you grow as a player.
"We're very lucky."
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