Team Canada upset reigning Paralympic champion Germany 54-50 to seize the world crown at the 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship on Saturday at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto, Ont. With the win, Canada captured its fifth gold medal in team history and seventh consecutive podium finish at the world championship.
The Canadian women are also back atop the podium after a most recent sixth place finish at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
“Coming from sixth place in London back to the podium, that’s what we talked about and I don’t think a lot of people had faith that we could move that high up in the rankings, but the team believed that we could and we bought into a common goal,” said Team Canada veteran and Toronto native Tracey Ferguson.
Canada entered the final with a 6-1 record, with the lone loss coming at the hands of the undefeated Germans. The championship game featured multiple lead changes as momentum swung back and forth like a pendulum with both teams keeping pace on the scoreboard.
The Germans managed a one-point lead, 12-11, after the opening 20 minutes of the tightly contested game. Canada countered in the second frame, outscoring Germany 14-10 to take a 25-22 lead at halftime. After a close third quarter, Canada maintained the three-point edge for a 39-36 advantage. With the hometown crowd on their side, Canada found an extra gear to extend its lead to eight points with 2:44 remaining in the game. Germany came back to within two, but sent Canadian Cindy Ouellet to the free throw line twice in the dying seconds of the match and she converted in the clutch to put the game out of reach.
“It was an awesome team win,” said Ouellet, a native of Quebec City, Que. “We followed the game plan and came out winners in the end. It’s amazing to win at home with our friends and family here.”
Ouellet tied for the team scoring lead with 15 points in the game for the Canadian side, to go with 11 assists. Janet McLachlan, of Vancouver, B.C., also posted 15 points and 19 rebounds. Both delivered with big game performances, picking up double-doubles. Teammates Katie Harnock, of Elmira, Ont., and Ferguson wrapped up a solid tournament with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Marina Mohnen had 20 points for Germany to go along with six rebounds and four assists.
McLachlan, Harnock and Ouellet all finished amongst the top ten point producers in the tournament.
Canada will strive to build off of the momentum created by a successful run at the world championship when it competes on home soil once again next summer at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games, which acts as the qualification tournament for the next Paralympic Summer Games in Rio in 2016.
The Netherlands defeated the United States 74-58 to bring home the bronze medal.
With the conclusion of the 2014 Women’s World Championship, Canada is the first nation to host all four of the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) world championships, including the men’s event in 1994, the inaugural junior men’s tournament in 1997, and the first-ever junior women’s event in 2011.
The tournament was the largest women’s world championship in history, featuring teams from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru and the United States.
Wheelchair Basketball Canada | WheelchairBasketball.ca