This is just the beginning, says top talent with eye on Games
MOST people know Hebersham’s Maryanne Latu as a 17-year-old champion wheelchair basketballer, but she’s been beating the odds all her life. At just seven months old Latu was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. The tumour covered her spine and killed most of her nerves, particularly to her legs.
By the age of five, she was in a wheelchair but she did not let it stop her from becoming a champion basketball player.
“The only time I would use my wheelchair is when my class had an excursions or a long distance to get to places,” Latu said.
As she watched her brothers playing rugby, Latu decided she wanted to do something special with her life too.
“Time, days, months went past and I began to picture myself playing wheelchair basketball,” Latu said.
“I choose basketball because I enjoy being able to compete on an even playing field.”
Latu was part of the NSW junior basketball team that won the Kevin Coombs Cup in May.
“It felt good bringing the trophy back home, becoming the 2015 rookie of the year, travelling around Australia with my team mates to play in the Women’s Wheelchair Basketball National League representing Sydney Metro Blues,” she said.
Latu said she dreams of going to the Olympics in 2020.
“Coming into wheelchair basketball I never thought of all the achievements I received, individual and as a team,” she said. “I’m truly blessed with this talent and hope to see myself playing at 2020 Olympics, at Tokyo and representing Australia and my background, Kingdom of Tonga.”
For now she is preparing for her next competition the junior national championship in Townsville next April.
When it comes to inspi- ration, Latu said she only looks up to God.
“Been through a lot in my life but I’m a fighter and this is just the beginning,” she said.
“I look up to my Heavenly Father because he has blessed me with this talent.
“I have become more confident, not only in my basketball but in life and I have made a lot of new friends.”
Maryanne Latu plays with the Sydney Metro Blues in the National Wheelchair Basketball League. Picture: Basketball Australia
Maryanne Latu plays in the National Wheelchair Basketball League. Picture: Tom Brassil