Participating in a range of sports at school including swimming, sailing, cycling and basketball, Tesch’s back was broken in a mountain bike accident at the age of 19.
During her rehabilitation, she kept her mind and body focused by shooting a foam ball into a mini basketball ring and upon the suggestion of her physiotherapist, she then took up the sport of wheelchair basketball.
Training out of Mount Druitt, Tesch joined the New South Wales state wheelchair team and was invited to try out for the national team within a couple of months.
She was then selected to represent Australia at the 1990 World Championships, the first such event for female wheelchair basketball after the men’s competition was installed in 1973.
Two years later, Tesch was also a part of Australia’s first foray for women’s wheelchair basketball in the Paralympics when she represented the Gliders at Barcelona.
Her appearance at those Games would mark the first of what would be five consecutive Paralympics as a member of the Gliders and she helped Australia finish fourth at both Barcelona and Atlanta in 1996.
While placing fourth in Atlanta, the Australians announced themselves to their more experienced competitors with a four-point victory over the USA in the group stage, the Gliders first ever win over America and Tesch finished as the team’s leading scorer.
Between those two Paralympics, Tesch was a part of Australia’s first ever medal at an international tournament when the Gliders finished third at the 1994 World Championships, defeating the Netherlands 38-36 in the bronze medal game.
The forward was named to the All-Star team and followed that up with an MVP-winning performance at the 1998 World Champs in Sydney as Australia again won the bronze medal, beating Japan by six points.
A staple of the national team by 2000, Tesch was named vice-captain and in one of her career highlights, won Australia’s first Paralympic medal (a silver) for women’s wheelchair basketball in front of a home crowd as they advanced to the gold medal game undefeated with wins over the USA and Great Britain.
In discussions with competitors following the 2000 Paralympics, Tesch was invited to play in a professional European men’s league.
Taking up the opportunity, she became the first woman in the world to play wheelchair basketball professionally as she competed in Spain in 2001 before playing three seasons in Italy and one in France.
In the meantime, Tesch began recruiting women to start a Spanish women’s team and was the driving force behind the establishment of a women’s wheelchair basketball league in Europe, competing in Italy and France.
Her commitment to the Gliders did not subside, co-captaining them to a second consecutive silver medal in 2004 as they again progressed through the tournament undefeated before falling to the USA in the final.
In her last Paralympic Games as a basketballer, Tesch captained the team solely in Beijing to a bronze medal, continuing the most successful run in the Gliders’ history while she also competed for the national team in World Championships up until 2010.
On the domestic front, Tesch was an integral part of the formative years of the Women’s National Wheelchair Basketball League (WNWBL), dominating the competition.
The highest scorer in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006-07, the forward also won the overall MVP in the first two years of the competition (2000 and 2001) as well as in 2004 before winning the 4-Pointer MVP in 2010.
Clinching Championships with the Hills Hornets, Tesch completed her dominance by being named in the All-Star teams in 2000, 2001, 2003-04 and 2007-10.
In addition to her nomination in the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame, Tesch received an Australian Sports Medal in 2000 and was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in 2014 for co-founding the development organisation Sport Matters, and the promotion and facilitation of sport for people with disabilities.
Purchase your tickets for one of Australian basketball's most prestigious nights as Liesl Tesch is inducted alongside six other athletes, coaches and contributors here.
The 2016 Australian Basketball Hall of Fame Class:
Perry Crosswhite AM
Liesl Tesch AM
Patrick Hunt AM
Ron Harvey AM
Ken Watson BEM