Going for Gold Halfway Across the World
Mizzou Wheelchair Basketball standout John Gilbert helps USA team on its way to gold
July 14, 2009
Story Contact: Christian Basi, (573) 882-4430, BasiC@missouri.edu
COLUMBIA, Mo. - John Gilbert already has one gold medal from international competition, and in less than 12 hours, he might have a second one. Gilbert, a member of the University of Missouri Tiger Wheelchair Basketball team, will face Spain's team today in Paris as a member of the USA wheelchair basketball team.
Currently, Gilbert, of Fairfax, Mo, is competing on the Under-23 U.S. national team at the Junior World Championships in Paris. On Monday, the USA team beat Australia 86-43 in the semifinal round. They will face Spain today, which defeated Sweden in their semifinal game.
"All the focus and determination we have put together for this journey to the gold medal falls on this one game, and we will see if the hard work has paid off," Gilbert said. "I have felt like I have contributed, but it is a team sport where if one player is playing by themselves, the unit is off. We've played well together as a team and have accomplished our goals to this point."
"We're extremely proud of John and his accomplishments with the U.S. Under-23 team," said Ron Lykins, coach of the Mizzou Tiger Wheelchair Basketball team. "This has been a goal of his for a very long time. He's a fantastic leader for our team who leads by example. Our players see how hard he works and, through his efforts, he encourages his teammates to work harder."
This isn't the end of Gilbert's international career. Following the current tournament, he has been invited to tryouts for the 2009 U.S. senior national wheelchair basketball squad later this summer. The trials, which will be held in August in Birmingham, Ala., will determine the 12 players who will represent the United States at the Americas Zone Qualifying Tournament in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, later this year.
"If he is selected to the senior squad, it will mark him as one of the elite players in the country," Lykins said.
Gilbert is a four-time First Team All-American for Mizzou and has played on several national teams at competitions in Australia, Brazil and England. He has received the Frank M. Brasile Sportsmanship Award twice. The award is determined with a vote by players and coaches in the College Division. To be considered for the award, individuals must exhibit effort, enthusiasm, unselfishness, leadership, discipline, respect for others, personal conduct on/off the court, positive mental attitude, and poise throughout the course of the season. Previously, Gilbert won a gold medal as part of the U.S. national team that competed in the Para Pan-American games.
The 2008-2009 Tiger Wheelchair Basketball team won 25 games, the most victories ever in a single season for the team. The team also posted a cumulative grade point average of 3.3.
Editor's Note: The gold medal game takes place at 11:30 a.m., CDT (6:30 p.m. in Paris). To track the game, visit: http://www.iwbf.org/!!!Paris_2009/IWBF_Under_23_Paris_2009/Welcome.htmland click on "live stats available."