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Worcester Wins 'Ground-Breaking' First University Wheelchair Basketball Championships

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The University of Worcester’s Wheelchair Basketball team have won the inaugural ‘ground-breaking’ British Wheelchair Basketball University Championships, adding to the University’s reputation as a centre of excellence for inclusive sport.

The competition was held at the University of Worcester Arena, which was specifically designed to meet the needs of wheelchair athletes, and will also host next year’s European Wheelchair Basketball Championships.

The University Championships was the first competition of its kind for universities in the UK, giving disabled students the opportunity to play alongside their peers.

The University of Worcester team was joined by squads from Nottingham Trent University, Durham University, Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Northampton, with the teams competing in a round-robin format before advancing into the knock-out phase.

In the last four Worcester – made up of captain Mark Stevens, Ella Beaumont, Sophie Carrigill, Jordanna Bartlett, Adam Nixon, Andrew Rigby, Ollie Buncombe, Nik Terrell, Jacob Megram, Dan Birch and Alex Woods - defeated Durham to set up a final against Nottingham Trent, before running out 30-18 winners to take the gold medal.

After the tournament, Mark Stevens said: “It was a brilliant day – everyone has come out fighting, all five universities produced some great action and showcased some excellent wheelchair basketball skills.

“We played really well and it’s great to be able to say that we are the first ever University Champions. We are now looking to the future and to build on our win today – our future is definitely bright.”

University of Worcester Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor David Green, attended the Championships, and was delighted to see the University Arena once again prove a fitting venue for high quality, disability sport.

“I am so inspired by these young athletes,” he said. “They know how to work together, showed tremendous skill and athleticism and clearly thoroughly enjoyed their exciting matches.

“It is a great honour for us to be the first ever holder of the Wheelchair Basketball University Championships title. 

“When we decided to develop the country’s first purpose-built indoor arena designed with the needs of the wheelchair athlete in mind, we hoped that we would be holding events such as the University Championships, as well as international tournaments, so it’s marvellous to have the finals here.”

British Wheelchair Basketball Chairman, Malcolm Tarkenter, was also full of praise for the inaugural event, saying: “The University Championships was a fantastic, ground-breaking event for us.

“We have only just begun to work within the Higher Education sector, so to be able to stage such a tournament and have a number of universities attend is great.

“Our ambition as a governing body is to provide an all-inclusive sport in all universities across the country to ensure disabled students are able to play alongside their peers. We hope that this is the first of many competitions, and thanks must go to our partners, Sport England, for their support and belief in bringing wheelchair basketball in to the university system.”

Photo courtesy of Paul Beard: http://www.ukevents.tv.