England and Australia’s strive for success pays off.
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games kicked off in style, as hosts England took to the court against South Africa in the first Games to include wheelchair basketball in the programme.
England’s big man, Lee Manning started the game off hot as he had his team’s first 4 points. Contributions from youngsters, Abderrahim Taghrest, Charlie McIntyre and Tyler Baines saw England gain an 9-0 lead at the halfway point. England forged ahead as the game went on, claiming the victory on home soil, 17-2.
Post-game Lee Manning spoke about how special it’s been for him to mentor these young players. “I’m loving every second of it, I love the fact that they are coming out of their shell. To watch them shine on a big stage like the Commonwealth Games and not feel a second of the nerves, it’s something I’m really proud of. I’m so proud to be part of their journey.”
The second game of the day saw another dominant performance from England as the women beat Kenya 20-1. Scores were fairly spread out on the England side as Charlotte Moore, Jade Atkin and Joy Haizelden all ended the game with 6 points each.
After the game, Amy Conroy spoke about what it means to her to compete at these Games. “I’m so excited. It’s great to see wheelchair basketball represented alongside the able-bodied game for the first time. I could not be more hyped to be at these Games.”
As we progressed into the evening we were treated to a thrilling 2-point game between Canada and Australia in the men’s competition. Australia’s Lachlin Dalton contributed a total of 8 points with sharp shooting from behind the arc. Meanwhile, Colin Higgins led the scores for Canada with 7. In the end it was the Aussies who got the win, 13-11.
Post-match Luke Pople spoke about his team’s performance. “It’s very important that we got that win. I’m pleased that we’ve started this tournament off on a good note. Lachlin hit some big shots down the stretch and that’s what led us to victory.”
The final game of the day saw the Australia women pick up a big win over Scotland. The game started off fairly even but the gap soon widened as the halfway mark approached with Australia gaining a 4-point lead. Despite Scotland attempting to comeback, Australia firmly held onto their lead. They were able to get themselves into double digits within the final minute and win the game, 12-5.
Speaking after the game, Ella Sabljak-McShane talked about what it meant for her team to start this competition in good form. “I think it just shows that all our hard work and preparation has paid off and we’re here to play basketball. I’m just so ecstatic that it all came together so well. It’s unreal.”
Stay tuned to Rollt. for more Birmingham 2022 coverage over the next few days.
Text: Dylan Cummings | Photo: Uli Gasper