Great Britain crowned Women's U25 Wheelchair Basketball World Champions
At the start of a spectacular summer for wheelchair basketball, Great Britain put on a stunning performance throughout the Women’s U25 World Championships in Beijing, China; by securing gold with a 44-35 victory against Australia.
The only nation to emerge from the pool stage undefeated, the GB Women’s U25 team secured their place in the knockout stages with consecutive wins against Canada (50-30), Australia (49-40), hosts China (70-45), Japan (67-22) and Germany (50-22).
Holding the group’s top spot, Great Britain’s semi-final saw the team face the fourth-placed nation Canada once more. In a re-match of the teams' opening game, the GB Women’s U25 Team overcame the Canadians again to earn their place in the final against Australia with a 67-51 victory.
The gold medal game proved to be a nail-biting affair: an end to end opening 10 minutes seeing both teams really pile the pressure onto their opponents with strong defence. With just three minutes to play in the first quarter, it was Great Britain who had edged ahead by 6-4; however, Australia hit back to level the game at six before the first quarter buzzer sounded.
Australia maintained the pressure at the start of the second quarter, working their way to a 15-8 lead with Great Britain’s shots just not dropping. Continuing to fight, it was, however, the GB Women’s U25 Team who earned the final points of the quarter: hitting double figures as they cut the deficit to 15-11 at half time.
Great Britain got off to a flyer at the start of the second half, overturning the four point deficit as they quickly found themselves 17-15 up. And despite numerous lead changes throughout the quarter, Great Britain were ahead by 26-25 at the end of the third.
In an incredibly tense final quarter, the GB Women’s U25 team were able to maintain their focus and drive to not only hold onto the lead but also edge ahead against their tough opponents: taking a 34-25 lead in just under four minutes. Australia continued to battle hard, but Great Britain found another level of play to take 44-35 victory and with it the World Title.
Taverners ambassador, co-captain, final top scorer and the Championship’s Most Valuable Player (MVP), Amy Conroy said: “It feels absolutely amazing to be World Champions: I’m so proud of everyone! We didn’t have the best game in the final, but we’ve worked so hard for it and all the hours we put in came out in the end.”
Not only was Amy a major part of the world champions team, she also notched up a double double in the final (19 points and 13 rebounds) while top scoring, a fantastic effort. Fellow Taverners ambassador Laurie Williams was the third top scorer in the final with a crucial six points.
GB Women’s U25 Co-Captain and 2015 Women's U25 World Championship All Star 5 player Laurie Williams said: “We were struggling in the first half, just to find our rhythm and play our basketball – obviously credit to the Australians; they put us off our style of how we play. But in the second half, we gained a bit more composure, stuck to our game plan, and knocked down some shots – and that really put us ahead.
“I’m obviously over the moon, thrilled, to be World Champions – we completely stuck together as a team throughout the entire competition and I think it just really reflects the dedication we put towards GB as an U25 Squad and the potential that we have. We’ve worked really really hard for this and it’s paid off: at the end of the day we got what we worked for."
GB Women’s Wheelchair Basketball U25 World Championship winning squad:
• Charlotte Moore (CWBA)
• Sophie Carrigill (TCAT Shropshire Warriors, Sheffield Steelers)
• Leah Evans (Sheffield Steelers)
• Joy Haizelden (Blackhawks, CWBA)
• Laurie Williams (University of Alabama)
• Fran Ray (Leicester Cobras, CWBA)
• Megan Wood (GLL & Aspire London Titans)
• Jordanna Bartlett (Manchester Mavericks, Sheffield Steelers)
• Siobhan Fitzpatrick (CWBA, GLL & Aspire London Titans)
• Amy Conroy (Coyotes, Vixens)
• Katie Morrow (Northern Ireland WBC)