Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games officially got started today (29th July) following a spectacular opening ceremony the night before. Wheelchair basketball marked its first ever appearance in a Commonwealth Games as teams took to the court at Smithfield. This event sees an integrated programme of fixtures, with running game and wheelchair basketball fixtures side-by-side for the crowds to enjoy.
Wheelchair basketball is one of eight para-sports taking place at Birmingham 2022, making a significant moment for sport with the biggest para-sport programme ever seen at a Commonwealth Games.
It was a proud moment for host nation Team England as England Men’s had a 17-2 victory over South Africa in their opener. The crowd were cheering loudly throughout, with both teams making history as the first athletes to compete in a wheelchair basketball fixture at the Commonwealth Games.
Lee Manning commented:
“Lovely to get a win under our belt! The crowd is special here – I haven’t had the opportunity to play in front of a home crowd like this before – it really is overwhelming. Like I said out on court – thank you to everyone that has come to support.”
Back-to-back with the men’s team, England Women’s joined the party with a 1-20 win over Kenya, getting their campaign off to a winning start and gaining valuable on-court familiarity in the fast-paced 3×3 format.
Charlotte Moore commented:
“It was a crazy atmosphere to go out into and play, and obviously it’s the first time it’s been [at the Commonwealth Games] – to have such a great turn out for the first game, we genuinely feel the support and it gave everyone so much energy to go play and enjoy the experience.”
In the evening, Scotland Women’s competition got underway with a hard-fought game against Australia, where the Scottish team were defeated 12-5. Scotland had a huge amount of support from the crowd, who will no doubt be behind them for their next fixtures over the coming days.
Northern Ireland Men’s will have to wait until tomorrow (30th July) to get their campaign underway, with their first fixture taking place in the evening session.