A Fortunate Accident – A boy from Balranald By Kevin Coombs
An inspirational story of an Aboriginal boy from Balranald, who went out rabbit shooting and was shot in the back, in an instant transforming the nature of his life, putting him in a hospital bed for two years, making him paraplegic. From this very ordinary beginning, author Kevin Coombs grew up to become an extraordinary man with a stellar international sporting career in basketball – one of the few people in Australia to have carried both the Olympic and Paralympic torches.
In his own direct, good-humoured way, Kevin tells a life story infused with his philosophy of, “When you think you’re gone, you can turn a negative into a positive.”
Recovering in the Spinal Unit in the Austin Hospital, Kevin discovered basketball and a reason to get out of bed every morning. At the age of 19, he was selected for the very first Paralympics in Rome in 1960. Over the next 24 years, he was to play and captain the basketball team in five Paralympics. His contribution to sport was acknowledged with the naming of an avenue after him in the Sydney Olympics Village in the year 2000.
But Kevin is more than a sporting hero. He has played a leading role in a wide range of disabled, health, housing, educational and legal organisations and initiatives. He is a founding member of Paravics; acted as the first Manager of the Koori Health Unit; continues to sit on the Board of the Aboriginal Hostels Association; serves as an advocate in a Koori Court; and was an ambassador as part of the National Indigenous Strategy for Literacy and Numeracy. He has an Order of Australia for a lifetime’s service to sport and the community.
Throughout it all, Kevin has built up an ever-widening circle of friends at sport and work, whose tales pepper this book. “There’s always been someone there ready and willing to give me a lift,” claims Kevin. At the very foundation are his own family and wider community back at Balranald.
Kevin reckons he’s been more fortunate than most.
OUT OF PRINT RRP: $19.95 ISBN: 0 9577131 4 2 Published in 2005. 62 pages, A4 and comprehensively illustrated throughout
“All Australians should know about Kevin Coombs’ life journey. A life of hard work, courage and triumph. A life well led.” Gavin Jennings The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, 2005
em PRESS Publishing specialises in Australian landscapes and their historical and cultural contexts. em PRESS is particularly interested in fusing Indigenous, European settler and nature-based readings of the landscape to provide a truer view of our country.