Tomas Ramos is more than just an athlete. The Cabramatta West resident is a basketballer with an eye for art and appetite to tell a story.
On Wednesday, the Champion caught up with the former Westfields Sports High School student at Sydney Olympic Park who commissioned him to design banners for the 20th anniversary of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
It was his first look at the banners that line the streets surrounding ANZ Stadium and Qudos Bank Arena displaying images of Cathy Freeman after her gold medal winning performance in the 400-metres, the Olympic Cauldron, Australian Paralympic wheelchair racer Louise Savage and an Olympic volunteer.
The 18-year-old was approached to do the banners following the success of his HSC major work - aptly titled More than an athlete - which was selected for the ARTEXPRESS exhibition at the Armory.
His work featured four iconic athletes who have used their voice outside of the sporting arena and had a say in political and social issues - including the image of Cathy Freeman carrying the Aboriginal flag during her lap of honour which now features on one of the banners.
The work also featured American football player Colin Kaepernick (racial inequality) and basketballers LeBron James and Derrick Rose (social disadvantage).
"Driving in and seeing the banners made me smile," Tomas said.
"I actually got the call the day after I got surgery after I dislocated knee cap in March about the banners and they took three weeks to make up."
The digital art process sees Tomas create the line work, colouring and shading from a drawing tablet connected to the computer.
He said he finds art "relaxing" and even has an Instagram page set up where he creates cartoon images to sell.
"I have been drawing from a young age and it runs in the family with my grandma, mum and aunty," he said.
"I learnt a lot of the stuff for digital art off YouTube."
Tomas is hoping to score a basketball scholarship to college in America. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the under-16s state representative was scheduled to play for scouts in America.
For now the shooting guard is playing for the Camden Valley Wildfire - the same club he started with in the under-12s - in the youth league. Unfortunately the state league has already been cancelled.
It's OK, because Tomas is more than just an athlete.