In December 1992, aspiring Claremont footballer Brad Ness lost his right ankle while working as a deckhand on the Rottnest ferry.

"We were preparing to leave the jetty when the skipper thought he heard me calling all clear," Ness recalls. "But the rope I was attending was still attached to the quayside.

"When the ferry moved out, the rope tightened and sliced my right ankle as neatly as a chef chopping through a carrot."

Later in hospital, Ness met another amputee patient, 12-year-old Justin Eveson. He had also lost his lower leg, after it was caught in a lawn-aerating machine at Mosman Park Golf Club.

Twenty years later, both men have been chosen in the Australian wheelchair basketball team for the London Paralympics in September.

It will be their fourth Paralympics and the second as team captain for Ness, who received a Medal of the Order of Australia in last year's Australia Day honours. Two other West Australians - Shaun Norris and Michael Hartnett - have also been named in the men's team, known as the Rollers.

Amber Merritt, Sarah Vinci and Clare Nott have been chosen for the women's team, the Gliders.

Eveson, now 32, said after a successful career as a disabled swimmer (he won silver and bronze medals at the Sydney Games), he tried his hand at wheelchair basketball. He was an instant success and became a member of the winning Australian team in Beijing.

Ness said WA was home to some of the world's best wheelchair players. "We have been playing as a group for several years and all of us have a commitment to succeed and to achieve," he said.

Pound for pound, Ness nominated Norris, from Alexander Heights, as the world's best player.

Norris, a former finalist in _The West Australian _-ANZ Sports Star of the Year, became a paraplegic when he was four after being hit by a car as he rode his bike in Brisbane.

He started playing wheelchair basketball when he was 10 but never dreamt he would be winning gold medals. "My disability has become my ticket to the world," he said.

"It has been an amazing journey."

Teammate Hartnett also became a paraplegic after a car accident. After battling inner demons as a teenager, he said he was a relatively late starter to the sport but it had proved a bonanza. "Like anyone, you try to adapt and make the most of your circumstances," he said.

The West Australian

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