Netherlands won their first Paralympic gold medal in women’s wheelchair basketball at Ariake Arena on Saturday (September 4), outlasting China 50-31 to gain revenge for a preliminary round loss against the same opponents.
After collecting one silver and four bronze medals at previous Games, including bronze at London 2012 and Rio 2016, Netherlands can now add Paralympic gold to their 2018 world championship title.
“I can’t believe it, we wanted it so bad and we fought so hard for it,” said star Bo Kramer, who led Netherlands with 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
“We trained five years for this and that’s what we said to each other, ‘Girls, we’ve done everything that we could. Trust each other and have fun'.”
The gold-medal game was the culmination of a virtually flawless Paralympic campaign for Netherlands, in which their only slip-up was a 45-38 loss to China in their second preliminary game.
While China’s vaunted defence shut the Dutch down in that game, Netherlands’ defence was the story in the rematch as they restricted China to eight points in the second and third quarters combined.
In losing for the first time at Tokyo 2020, China shot only 31 per cent from the field and their total of 31 points was 10 fewer than their previous lowest-scoring game of the tournament.
But while they fell short of gold, second place brought the first Paralympic medal for China in wheelchair basketball.
In the bronze medal game, the United States were too strong for Germany, winning 64-51.
Lindsey Zurbrugg scored 22 points to lead USA, while Rose Hollermann had a triple-double with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
While USA were unable to defend their Rio 2016 gold medal, they were elated with bronze given nine of their 12 players were first-time Paralympians.
“It’s awesome, to me it doesn’t matter the colour of it,” Hollermann said. “It’s amazing that we came here with such a young group and we ended up leaving with a medal.”