Eliza one jump ahead: basketballer wins national recognition

TOP GONG: Eliza Mills won the Female Player of the Year with an Intellectual Disability at the Basketball Australia Junior Basketball Awards.
 Photo: MEGAN FOSTER

TOP GONG: Eliza Mills won the Female Player of the Year with an Intellectual Disability at the Basketball Australia Junior Basketball Awards. Photo: MEGAN FOSTER

WHEN you look at Eliza Mills’ list of achievements it’s hard to believe she’s only 22.

Mills has represented New South Wales and Australia on countless occasions - and won umpteen medals doing so - and now she is officially one of the best female basketball players in the country.

On Saturday, July 12 Mills was named the 2013 Basketball Australia Female Player of the Year with an Intellectual Disability at the 22nd annual Basketball Australia Junior Awards ceremony in Geelong.

“I actually missed the lunch, I heard the food was cold anyway though,” she laughed.

“Our taxi driver didn’t know where to go, so we showed up right at the end of the awards. I definitely wasn’t expecting it, it’s still hasn’t really sunk in.”

Mills won the award for her performances in 2013, which included a silver medal with NSW Country at the Ivor Burge national championships. Mills also won the top point scorer award at the championships, averaging 24 points and nine rebounds per game.

She was also selected to represent the Pearls - Australia’s national women’s basketball team for players with an intellectual disability - at the 2013 INAS World Basketball Championships in Ankara, Turkey.

Unfortunately, the women’s division was cancelled due to a lack of teams.

“It gets intense playing at that level,” she said.

“There is a lot of travel when you live in the country and this is a pretty good reward for the hard work I’ve put in. Although, I do feel a little bit bad about winning it in a way.

“I really look up to the girls from Victoria who train much, much harder than I do, and I know how hard they work.

“So winning it over them was a different feeling.”

Mills gave herself little time to celebrate after the win. She has thrown  herself back into training, using karate and kickboxing to complement her local basketball duties ahead of the 2014 Special Olympics Australia National Games in Melbourne in October, and the 2015 Ivor Burge competition.

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