Playing in Rio on Chaplin's mind 

AS she held the sparkling silver medal won at the London Paralympics, Harcourt’s wheelchair basketball ace Shelley Chaplin declared she was yet to decide on a fourth Games campaign in Rio de Janiero.

“I am unsure about Rio,” Chaplin said yesterday at Bendigo Stadium, a venue she played at many years ago before going on to dazzle with her defensive skills on courts around the world.

For the time being, the 28-year-old, who celebrated her birthday during the Games, is happy to reflect on the Gliders’ success in London.

“The London Paralympics was an incredible experience,” the point guard said.

A 10-year member of the Australian team, Chaplin won silver at her first Games in Athens in 2004, and bronze in Beijing four years later.

“We went to London with three Games rookies, but a lot of us had been playing international basketball for many years,” Chaplin said of the Gliders line-up.

The Games build-up included international matches in Australia, Germany and Great Britain and training three times a day, either on court or in the gym.

“Every match at the Games was tough,” she said of a campaign which was followed intensely by her greatest supporters, parents Rob and Wendy.

The Gliders’ defensive press, in which Shelley Chaplin was often to the fore, played a key part in qualifying for the gold medal play-off.

Australia’s campaign tipped off with a 52-50 win against Brazil, a 51-24 victory against Great Britain, before a 57-50 loss to Canada in the last of the pool games.

The Gliders rebounded brilliantly to score a 62-37 victory in the quarter-final clash with Mexico.

A 40-39 win against the United States in the semi-final was one of the most memorable games Chaplin had played in.

Although she scored eight points and five assists in the final, Chaplin and her team-mates could not grasp the long sought-after gold medal as Germany won by 14 points.

“We didn’t play poorly, it was just Germany played brilliantly.”

Chaplin said the crowds in London were awesome.

“There were more than 10,000 at the final. The media exposure for the Games was fantastic.”

Away from the basketball court, Chaplin has completed her degree in recreation, sport and tourism at the University of Illinois.

The basketball star had spent the past five years based in Urbana for study and playing basketball and is now weighing up playing professionally in Europe and thinking about Rio, too.

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