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7-12-2006 - By Francis Malone for Beijing Bound

Patrick Mills is standing tall

Fourteen years ago a small Canberra boy took up basketball for a local indigenous club his parents established called The Shadows.

Patrick Mills was a small point guard back then. Now aged 18, he is still a relatively small point guard at 182cm, but he is right up there as member of the Australian national squad and has his sights set firmly on being an Olympian.

Like so many elite athletes he came up through the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF). A standout performance for Australia at the 2005 AYOF did not go un-noticed.

This year he made the Australian national squad, was selected to play for an American college team and won a prestigious Deadly award.

In July, Mills was chosen for the Boomers squad for the 2006 World Championships.

“I was stoked to be training with the best Australian players” he said.

Although he did not make the team, he attended all the training camps and gained some very important practice.

“I learnt a lot from the experienced guys like Jason Smith, Chris Anstey and Sam Mackinnon” Mills said.

“They are my mentors. I strive to develop similar characteristics, to be a leader.”

 

He dreams of playing for the NBL and has set a definite goal of playing at the 2008 Olympic Games.

“It is an extreme goal, but it will push me to reach excellence and work harder each day.”

Mills travels to the States next year to play for Saint Mary’s in the West Coast Conference. He will be opposed by the best players in America’s division one schools.

In September he was named the most promising new indigenous talent in sport and was honoured with the prestigious Deadly award.

“It’s a big award for indigenous people in Australia, recognising talent in sport, music and art. I remember always watching it on TV when I was little”.

His father is a Torres Strait Islander and his mother an aboriginal from the Ynunga people in South Australia.

Mills sees his strengths as “the speed and energy he brings to the game. My ball skills are also pretty good.”

“Having not played at an Olympics or World Championships, I need to improve my shooting and defence at that level.”

Mills has set himself the goal of making the Boomers squad for the training camps in April 2007.

He wants to perform well and then be selected for the team to play against New Zealand in the Oceania Championships next August which is a do or die playoff for a spot at the Olympic Games.

By Frances Malone for Beijing Bound

To read Beijing Bound, click here



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