History made for wheelchair basketball on the final day of the Commonwealth Games.
Sharp shooting from Northern Ireland’s James MacSorley and Nathan McCabe meant the team ended their Commonwealth Games campaign on a high after a 10-7 victory over South Africa to claim 5th place.
Post-match, Conn Nagle elaborated on what it meant to play at the Commonwealth Games as a young player.
“It’s absolutely amazing, being at an event like this is something all 4 of us have never experienced before. It’s a big achievement for us to come here and show everyone what we’re all about.”
Two African nations would battle it out for 5th in the women’s competition as South Africa took on Kenya. Despite a good effort from the Kenyans, South Africa would go onto win, 6-5 with the shot from Kelebogile Moeng taking them into the lead.
Both England teams would be successful in their bronze medal games. The men reached 21 versus Malaysia and the women edged out Scotland 12-10.
In the men’s game it was England’s youngsters who showcased their talent on the biggest stage as they contributed 18 of England’s total points. Lee Manning played the role of player/coach from the side lines. Meanwhile in the women’s game, England were able to establish a 4-point lead which Scotland kept chipping at but in the end, they achieved the 2-point victory and were crowned bronze medallists in front of a home crowd.
After their games, Tyler Baines and Amy Conroy spoke about what it meant to them to come away with bronze medals.
Tyler: “I’m buzzing, it’s been a massive tournament, the team are amazing, and I’ve loved every moment of it. We were a bit unlucky in the semi-final, Australia was the better team on the day but I’m so happy that we’ve come away with a bronze. Without Lee in this team, we wouldn’t be where we are today, the stuff he’s done for this team over the past few months is unbelievable. He’s helped each of us on our journey to get here, I love him to bits, he’s the best captain ever.”
Amy: “It’s not the colour we were going for but after a little cry in the shower and picking ourselves back up I could not be prouder of these guys. Just coming home with a medal at the first ever Commonwealth 3×3 is so special.”
Australia and Canada went head-to-head in both gold medal games. In the men’s game both teams went back and forth before Luke Pople gave Australia a 1-point lead from the free throw line. The Aussies would then extend their lead with scores coming from Lachlin Dalton, Jake Kavanagh and Pople before Colin Higgins and Vincent Dallaire tied the game up at 8-apiece with 2 and a half minutes to go. A couple of big shots from Pople gave Australia a 2-pint lead with 94 seconds left on the clock. A valiant effort from the veteran Bo Hedges brought Canada within one but Pople soon extended the Australian lead back out to 2 with 20 seconds remaining. This momentum was enough for the Aussies to get the 11-9 win and become Commonwealth Games men’s gold medallists.
Both teams traded shots in the women’s game before Canada forged ahead with under 5 minutes to go. Great shooting prowess from Canada ensured they achieved the 14-5 win to take home the gold medal. Kady Dandeneau ended the tournament with another impressive personal performance as she top scored with 6 points.
Post-game, Australia’s Lachlin Dalton and Canada’s Kady Dandeneau talked about how it felt for them to make history for their respective nations and be crowned the first ever Commonwealth Games 3×3 wheelchair basketball gold medallists.
Lachlin: “It feels unreal. It’s what we came out to do but you never think it could actually happen, you have confidence, but you never know what’s going to happen throughout the week. To come out like the boys did and have the best start we’ve had all tournament and to carry it through for the whole 10 minutes is just fantastic. It feels good to know that all the hard work is finally starting to pay off.”
Kady: “Being a gold medallist at any point is awesome but to be the first and to get your name in the history books is really cool. It was so exciting to be included in these Games and I really hope it continues to grow and we get to go to more 3×3 events. The wheelchair game can be really good for this format, it’s quick, it’s fast, you have to make decisions quickly and I think it’s very entertaining. The crowd loved it.”
Thank you for tuning into Rollt.’s Commonwealth Games coverage.
Text: Dylan Cummings | Photo: Uli Gasper