Taishar bounces into traineeship at VisAbility

The Paralympics is the peak event for any sports enthusiast. You need grit, determination and a commitment to give up hours of free time to train every week. 23-year-old Taishar Ovens, who’s undertaking an internship at VisAbility, has been selected to represent Australia and compete in the 1.0 Wheelchair Basketball category at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Taishar in wheelchair just about to shoot into a basketball hoop
Taishar has set her sights on playing basketball in the Paralympics

“Wheelchair basketball classification is based on an individual’s capacity. I’m in Class 1, so I have the highest level of impairment, with 4.5 being the lowest level,” explains Taishar.

“My training schedule this year has been busy. In January, I was at the Australian Institute of Sport (link opens in new window) in Canberra. I was back there in March. In April I trained in Queensland and then more trials in Canberra in May and June – before final selection.”

Traineeship within our Disability Employment Services

Taishar was offered a traineeship position at VisAbility’s CoAct Disability Employment Services in April 2021. She’s the first point of contact for new clients, answering calls and undertaking administrative duties. It’s a part-time role, so she can continue with her training.

“I’m good at organising others. I’m pretty fast with technology and like meeting people, so it matches my skill set.”

Taishar – VisAbility’s CoAct trainee

Taishar has an impressive list of qualifications for this internship post including a Cert III in Events. She also has Cert III and Cert IV in Fitness. Up until recently, she was a CrossFit coach at a gym in Cockburn.

Taishar sits at her work desk in front of her computer
The Paralympian hopeful is settling into her new role with VisAbility’s Disability Employment Services team

Taishar’s weekly training schedule

Taishar trains for twelve hours each week, both on the court and lifting weights in a gym. Her coach is Brad Ness – an Australian wheelchair basketballer and a past Paralympian gold and silver medal holder.

“Brad’s amazing and a great motivator. He’s steered me to success at an international level, so now he’s pushing me towards the Paralympics.”

Taishar was born with scoliosis. In 2008 she had corrective surgery, but had a spinal stroke which left her paralysed.

She spent six weeks in the Princess Margaret Hospital and then a further six months rehabilitating at home. Her baby sister, Sophie, was born in 2009 and she told her mother that she’d walk again before her new sister could toddle. She got there, and Taishar now walks short distances, as well as using a wheelchair.

Dedicated to wheelchair basketball

Taishar was invited to try wheelchair basketball while she was still at school.

“I tried it and realised I enjoyed it. It’s liberating because it’s fast-paced and a sport where you use your hands, not your feet. It certainly gets your adrenaline going.”

In 2019 she competed in her first international competition. The game is like regular basketball, but players use lightweight and small wheelchairs on the court. Every team has 12 players, but only five play on the court at a time. Taishar uses NDIS funding to purchase a wheelchair.

“Wheelchairs can be very expensive. I’ve just moved across from an aluminium one to a titanium one. It’s lighter and more compact. The axles at the front enable a better spin.”

Taishar sits on the grass with her border collie cross - Beau
Taishar lives with a friend and her dog Beau in the southern suburbs of Perth

Taishar lives with a friend in Manning and her pet dog – Beau – a border collie cross. She says her social life is pretty non-existent at the moment because she’s training so hard.

“Life is pretty hectic. I’d like to get a place in the Paralympic basketball Wheelchair team, but I’m a realist. I’m only 23, there’s always Paris in 2024.”

Taishar – VisAbility’s CoAct trainee

If you’re in the building, come and say hello to Taishar while she’s undertaking her internship.

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