No slowing Downie

Support local, independent journalism

The SE Voice is the Limestone Coast’s only fully digital publication. Locally owned & operated, we deliver all the latest news & sport direct to your fingertips. We're run by a creative team of local journalists all based in the region. News as we know has changed - we're delivering it first and free. Thank you for your support in keeping local news alive.

Lechelle Earl, owner/editor

No slowing Downie

Former Mount Gambier man Kane Downie has a new lease on life after sustaining a life changing injury.

Downie, now 19, became a T11 incomplete paraplegic after a car crash in April 2021 in which he also broke his L2 and L3 vertebrae.

He spent two weeks at the Royal Adelaide Hospital before undertaking physical therapy in the capital city for a further six months where he was introduced to wheelchair basketball.

Downie was playing able bodied basketball from around eight years old right up to the accident and said wheelchair basketball helped with both his mental health and physical rehabilitation.

“It helps because you could kind of just go out there, be yourself, connect with everyone, see what happened to them, tell them your story and you were not just kind of stuck in rehab in bed not doing much,” he said.

“You were able to get out and actually do stuff and play the sport I liked playing beforehand.

“The community is heaps good … everyone is just kind of friends with each other and it’s super supportive and you can definitely relate to everyone on some level.”

Downie said while he has stood up and is hopeful he will walk again, the sport has helped him to accept being in a wheelchair indefinitely.

“They said after the car crash I had a 5% chance of walking,” he said.

“It’s pretty weird because they said two years after the crash that if I cannot do (something), I will not be able to do it anymore, but then it’s been two years and I have just started to stand.

“I feel like if I do walk I still will be playing wheelchair basketball for a little bit and then if I can start running normally and walking normally and everything probably will transition back to normal basketball so I can play with my friends, but it just depends how it all goes.”

Downie moved to Adelaide last year in October to pursue wheelchair basketball and said he never imagined a sport becoming his whole life prior to the crash.

The specialist sports star first played in the Kevin Coombs Cup (KCC) in the U23 state team in 2022 and again in 2023, with hopes to make next year’s squad.

“At the start, it was kind of nerve-wracking versing all the other states, they were really good. But as soon as I started getting into it I started playing really well and loved it,” Downie said.

“I kind of progressed pretty quickly with wheelchair basketball, starting to learn everything and I learned quite quickly.

“Sometimes I play point guard, but mostly a two or a three, so like a shooting guard or a power forward.”

Downie travelled to Canberra in December last year to play in the Australian Institute of Sport Frank Pointer Cup.

He has made the South Australia Wheelchair Basketball Association (SAWBA) State U23 Team and recently tried out for the SAWBA Adelaide Thunder team, which he hopes to make.

Downie has been invited to join the Australian indigenous team which will travel to Bali to compete against other cultures.

The young athlete recently placed first in Division 1 of the SAWBA social league with his team ‘Airmasters’ and placed third with his Division 2 team.

Downie said his biggest supporters have been his parents, partner and friends.

“With Sarah or my parents, just driving me to trainings or games or just trying to motivate me,” he said.

“Same with my friends, just trying to motivate me to get out of bed and train or do anything around basketball to get me better.

“I feel like it has definitely helped me a lot for them to just push me and work for me to get out and just train and be better.

“(My parents) were really supportive, they were kind of just all for it because they knew I loved playing basketball as an able body, so they were like ‘yeah go and try wheelchair basketball’ and then I liked it, so they supported it the whole way.”

The young athlete said his main goal is to make the Australian team for the Paralympics in wheelchair basketball.

Why wait? Get more stories like this delivered straight to your inbox
Join our digital edition mailing list and stay up to date on the latest news, events and special announcements from across the Limestone Coast.

Your local real estate guide - every Thursday


You might also like