Despite losing earlier in the tournament to the Netherlands, the German women’s wheelchair basketball team found a way to bounce back in the finals and reclaim what was once theirs.
Germany’s epic victory over their Dutch rivals in the 2015 International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) European Wheelchair Basketball Championships enters at No. 9 in the International Paralympic Committee’s Top 50 Moments of the year.
The Netherlands were a dominant performer throughout the preliminary matches and the favorites to win it all.
After Germany struggled against Great Britain in the zonal competition, barely winning 56-55, they had little hope in a gold-medal victory.
“Basically all we wanted was to play a good last game and finish the tournament in a positive way especially after the really bad game we had in the semi-final against GB,” Germany’s Marina Mohnen said. “I was absolutely surprised about ourselves, how well we played [against the Netherlands] and how well we started into that final.”
Germany quickly pulled to a 10-point lead with strong shooting all around. The Netherlands upped their defense, but it was not enough.
“We just had a perfect game. It was definitely our best game of the year and I'm really proud that we managed to play a game like that in the final,” Mohnen said.
“Everybody in the team played really well and everything worked out just like we wanted.”
Germany was no stranger to winning the European title, as this match marked a historic 10th win. The Germans were eager to reclaim the gold from the Netherlands, who won it in 2013.
“After the game, we just couldn't believe we won because it was so unexpected. It was probably one of the best European Championships I've ever won in my career,” Mohnen said. “Since I can remember, we are the two dominant teams in Europe. Playing them is always tough.
“Especially since they started their professional programme a couple of years ago, we can watch them getting stronger and stronger every year.”
While Germany celebrated a thrilling moment, the Australia experienced a heartbreaking moment of the year.
After winning silver at London 2012, Australia had high hopes of doing even better at Rio 2016, providing they could make it through the Asia-Oceania qualifier.
Unfortunately, they came up against an in-form Chinese side.
In the final of the IWBF Asia-Oceania Championships, China ran out 59-43 winners, blocking Australia from the Paralympics for the first time.
Despite the fact that China beat Australia twice, the Australians still had high hopes for a victory.
“Obviously, we knew we needed to win the game in order to qualify for the Rio Paralympic Games, which put added pressure on us, but we were looking forward to the challenge and to fixing the errors made earlier in the week,” Shelley Chaplin, Australia’s team captain said.
“We are very happy to win the game, as Australia team is a great competitor,” Yun Long of China said. “Although a little bit beyond our expectations, it has indeed brought us great confidence in Rio Paralympic Games.
“Winning the game has increased our confidence greatly, but we also realise there is much room to improve if we want to have better performance in Rio Paralympic Games.”
To find out more about the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2015, visit the dedicated page on the IPC’s website.