U.S. Paralympian Returns Home, Practices With Wheelchair Basketball Team For Rio Games

U.S. Paralympian Returns Home, Practices With Wheelchair Basketball Team For Rio Games

A Council Bluffs man hopes to bring home the gold, but he isn't competing in the Olympics you think.

This Paralympian is gearing up for the wheelchair basketball games in Rio.

Joshua Turek said, "I've dedicated my entire adult life to this craft and to this skill."

Turek loves basketball and he's spent a lot of time on the court. But there's something you might notice that's different about this player...he's playing the sport in a wheelchair.

Turek said, "We're in the chair, actually on the court, five hours a day."

The 37-year-old Council Bluffs native has spina bifida. It's a condition that affects the spines of babies and makes it impossible to walk.

"I'm training every morning. I'm trying to get up a thousand shots. I'm lifting four times a week."

This week Turek and his teammates are practicing at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

His goal has always been "to play for USA, to play for the Paralympics and to win the gold medal.”

Being back in the metro for now means more than anyone will ever know.

Turek said, "There's just something nice about being home."

Turek says the first organized basketball he ever played was actually at UNO’s Wellness Center. So for him, being back is like coming full circle.

“Now we're really getting down to the fine points of exactly what we're doing on defense and offense, and transition in groups."

It’s challenging, but made a little easier with the support of his teammates.

Turek said, "We all really love and care about each other, and it really is a brotherhood."

It’s something Turek says will make the difference between taking home a bronze or gold medal in Rio.

"On September the 8th we play against Brazil. That's our first game. Brazil in Brazil. It should be exciting."

The team will be at UNO until Sunday. It was invited by the university to give players a new place to practice, but also to get people excited about UNO's wheelchair basketball team which starts next year.