Liesl Tesch was just 19 years old when she crashed her bicycle, falling two metres onto a cement driveway. She suffered a broken back and was told she would never walk again.
Despite enduring months of physiotherapy and rehabilitation, today, Liesl is a high school teacher and successful international athlete, who became the first woman in the world to play professional wheelchair basketball.
During her rehabilitation, Liesl began to spend time playing with a small foam basketball and perspex backboard. Noticing her natural skill, a physiotherapist suggested Liesl might be the perfect candidate for wheelchair basketball.
Although there was some reservation about learning the skill of wheelchair driving, with Liesl’s determination and ability, it wasn’t long before she made the NSW Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team. Shortly after, Liesl was invited to trial for the national team, where she first represented Australia at the World Championships in 1990.
The wheelchair driving was irrefutably mastered, and for the past six years Liesl has competed professionally as a member of Australia’s successful Women's National Wheelchair Basketball League.
As well as representing Australia, Liesl has also played an active role in the sport overseas, having spent more than five years playing wheelchair basketball professionally in Spain, Italy and France as part of the European men's league.
Liesl has also been the driving force behind the challenging task of establishing a women’s wheelchair basketball league in Europe. A league in England has now been established with Germany on the way and the commencement of a national team in both Spain and Italy.
Liesl has won numerous honours in 20 year career as an Australian representative. As Captain of the Gliders, Liesl led her team to a Bronze Medal in Beijing, adding to her collection of Silver Medals won in Sydney and Athens. Liesl hopes to make the team for London 2012 to add a Gold Medal before she retires from the game.