Inaugural U25 Womenâ€™s World Championships Comes to an end
With the closing ceremony the first World Championship for women Under 25 came to an end, but for womenâ€™s wheelchair basketball it is really a great beginning.
Fourteen years ago the IWBF recognized the need to organize age class competitions for young men and women. The average age at the World Championships for men and women was getting older as more players stayed playing into their forties and fewer young players were finding a place to play at a top level. There was a concern that the game would eventually fall behind if a place was not found for good young players to develop and demonstrate their skills.
In 1997 Canada hosted the first World Championship for juniors (later changed to U23) and then the most recent instalment in Paris in 2009. With much pressure and great reluctance IWBF created an opportunity for young women to play at the U23, but knew this was not the solution best for women. In 2010 the IWBF World Congress approved a separate competition for women, the U25 and on July 22 in St. Catharines Ontario Canada the team for the USA made history by becoming the first U25 Womenâ€™s World Champions.
7 v 8
The team from South Africa arrived with very inexperienced players, many of whom had never travelled outside of their country before. They were outmatched at this tournament but improved with every game they played and will be back in 2015 much stronger for having been here.
The team from Mexico arrived with only 8 players. They played hard every game and were leading at half-time in their games against Great Britain and Germany. They never gave up but just ran out of steam in the final quarter of each game. In the play-offs they finally got a win over South Africa to finish 7th.
5 v 6
The team from Germany came out of the preliminary round in 2nd place in Group B. In the Â¼ finals they came up against a hot Great Britain team losing 38-56 before going on to defeat South AfricaÂ in the consolation play-off before losing to a very motivated Japan by two in the last seconds of the game to finish 6th.
The team from Japan also arrived with only 8 players but showed the tenacity that their country showed the world when the earthquake disaster struck earlier this year. They tied with Germany for 2nd in the Group B but placed third based on their loss to Germany (50-63) in Group play. They lost to Australia in the Â¼ finals in a close game 53-56. They advanced to the 5-6 game beating Mexico 65-52 in the consolation side play-offs in a game that saw Japan Captain Mari Amimoto score an IWBF record setting 51 points; the highest single game points for a women in IWBF World Championship history. The win set up a rematch with Germany where their momentum pushed them past Germany with a 53-51 victory to take fifth place.
The team from Canada started out strong going undefeated in Group B to finish 1st. They took on Mexico in the Â¼ finals winning 63-48 before losing to Australia in the semi-finals. In the Bronze medal game against Great Britain they were able to close the gap to 8 points but could not get closer and ended up fourth losing by a score of 42-62.
The team from Great Britain came on strong in the playoffs after finishing 3rd in Group A during the early rounds. They faced Germany in the Â¼ finals beating them 56-38 before losing to the USA in the semi-finals (48-63). They came back strong against Canada to take the Bronze medal 62-42.
Silver and Gold
The team from Australia finished 2nd in Group A losing only to the USA. They won their Â¼ final game against Japan (56-53) in a game that went down to the final buzzer with a three point attempt by Japan rimming and falling out. Australia beat the host country Canada (60-47) in the semi-finals for a chance to take the USA again only to fall short (39-66) and take home Silver.
The confident team from the USA was consistently the best team at the tournament, going undefeated and finishing 1st in Group A. The USA, with the only college program for womenâ€™s wheelchair basketball, demonstrates the value and advantage of enabling their players to play and train year round. The USA continued through the play-offs the same way with victories over South Africa (73-12) in the Â¼ finals, Great Britain (63-48) in the semi-finals and Australia (66-39) in the finals to take the Gold.
Full detailed statistics and news from the U25 can be found on the U25WWBC website http://www.u25wwbc.com
Special acknowledgements for our 2011 Womenâ€™s U25 WWBC MVP & All-Stars:
- MVP â€“ Desiree Miller â€“ United States
- All-Star â€“ Jamey Jewells â€“ Canada
- All-Star â€“ Cindy Ouellet â€“ Canada
- All-Star â€“ Rebecca Murray â€“ United States
- All-Star â€“ Mari Amimoto â€“ Japan
- All-Star â€“ Maya Lindholm â€“ Germany
A note of thanks to our U25 athlete bloggers for sharing your experiences prior to and during the tournament.Â Mareike Aderman (GER), Debee Steel (GB), Desiree Miller USA), Bridie Kean (AUS), Amber Merritt (AUS) and Gail Gaeng (USA). You can read their contributions on the U25blog at http://u25blog.iwbf.org/
The tournament proved everything the IWBF hoped it would; it showed there are young women players out there who want a chance to play on the world stage and countries prepared to help them do it. Of the 83 players at this first tournament 41 will be eligible to play again in 2015 and ten will still be eligible in 2019. This strong nucleus will be there to ensure bigger and better things for future U25 tournament. By taking the risk to offer this successful championship the IWBF showed that it is committed to develop opportunities for the women in the sport. Hosting this successful championship Wheelchair Basketball Canada showed their commitment to developing the sport at home and abroad.
Many of these players will start their journey to the London 2012 Paralympic Games at the upcoming qualification tournaments and their teams will be much stronger for their experience in St. Catharines.
Congratulations to everyone!