Sandy Blythe in action during competition at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics
|Full name||Robert Alexander Blythe|
|Born||24 February 1962
|Died||18 November 2005
Robert Alexander "Sandy" Blythe, OAM (24 February 1962 – 18 November 2005) was an Australian wheelchair basketball player. He became a paraplegic due to a car accident in 1981, and went on to participate in the Australia men's national wheelchair basketball team at four Paralympic Games, captaining the gold-medal-winning team at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics. He committed suicide in 2005 at the age of 43 after a long illness.
Blythe was born in Geelong on 24 February 1962. He grew up in a farm outside the Victorian town of Derrinallum and was a champion Australian rules football player as a teenager. He played in the Teal Cup and was later part of the St Kilda Football Club country squad. In 1981, he began studying at the Ballarat College of Advanced Education, but later that year, he was involved in a three-car collision that rendered him paraplegic. In 1984 he obtained his physical education degree on schedule, despite his six-month rehabilitation at Austin Hospital.
He was part of the Australia men's national wheelchair basketball team at the 1988 Seoul, 1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta, and 2000 Sydney Paralympics. He was the captain of the team when it won a gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games and was co-captain with Priya Cooper of the Australian Paralympic team at the 2000 Sydney Games. He had an Australian Institute of Sport scholarship in 1998 for wheelchair basketball.
On 18 November 2005, Blythe committed suicide; he had been suffering from depression and chronic fatigue syndrome for several years. He was survived by his partner of eight years, wheelchair basketballer Paula Coghlan.
Blythe received a Medal of the Order of Australia in 1997 for his 1996 gold medal. In 2000, he received an Australian Sports Medal. The Sandy Blythe Medal, awarded to the best player of the year in the Australia men's national wheelchair basketball team, is named in his honour. In 2010, he was posthumously inducted into the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame.
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