Nikola Goncin's story began when his parents immigrated to Canada in 1994 as refugees from Yugoslavia. "My family and I started in Canada with practically nothing. I had a great childhood though and I have my parents to thank for that. I hope that I'm never in the same situation as my parents were, running away from a war-torn country, but If I have even a quarter of the ambition and passion of my father then I would check that off as a success". It was at the age of 15 when Nikole was diagnosed with bone cancer. "I was an able-bodied basketball player at the time and after a hard-jump spot, I had to sit out due to an exceptional pain I was experiencing in my leg". The seriousness of his condition escalated fast and towards the end of the year, Nikola needed to have his leg amputated.
Shortly afterwards, Nikole was participating in his regular gym class when it coincided with a wheelchair basketball demonstration at the same gym. "The coach approached me about trying out the wheelchairs, asked about my story and whether I would be interested in trying it out for real. I was a bit reluctant at first -, he said bring a friend and hope to see you Thursday. I can confidently say that I can count on one hand the number of Thursday's that I've missed since - I immediately fell in love with the sport".
Fast forward many years later and Nikole has been named Junior Athlete of the Year (2014) for Wheelchair Basketball and named the MVP at the 2013 Under 23 World Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Turkey. "My passion lies in sport. I've always found an outlet for my energy and for the last decade that has been wheelchair basketball. My teammates are my brothers. We are there for each other - on the court and off. We're a family away from home. It can get emotional, chippy and physical, but whether you're having a bad or good day, life never seems as bad when you have your teammates there to motivate you and help you get through whatever the day presents. I love my sport for many more reasons than just the act of getting a ball in a hoop. I've got to travel all around the world, meet new people, see new things and experience new cultures. And I got to do all of this whilst playing the sport that I love, with the team mates that I think of as brothers".
With more tournaments upcoming, Nikole has many more challenges ahead of him: "The sport has opened many doors in my life. It's put me through university and other countless opportunities. It's given me direction in my life when there wasn't any. It's shaped my life and bestowed the honour upon me of wearing a maple leaf on my chest - something few others ever get to experience in their life. I am extremely grateful for everything basketball has done for me, on and off the court. Its funny how life works, for every door that closes three others open in its wake".