The Cardiff-born 11-time Paralympic Games gold medal-winning athlete said that it was important for the Welsh Wheelchair Basketball squads to experience the atmosphere of the Commonwealth Games, as the young men’s and women’s teams target success at future major international tournaments.
“The Welsh Wheelchair Basketball players have worked so hard to try and qualify for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and it’s important going forward for them to be here and experience the atmosphere and what the Commonwealth Games is all about,” said Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.
“It was a lovely moment to present them with their shirts as a memento, but more importantly for them it’s an opportunity for them to understand what the next step is and inspire them."
“It would be amazing for Team Wales to have a wheelchair basketball squad at the next Commonwealth Games, if the sport is included in the 2026 Games, as it would set yet another really important tone for the rest of disability sport in Wales.”
The Welsh Wheelchair Basketball squads competed in the qualification event in Glasgow for the 2022 Commonwealth Games – just missing out on a place in the Birmingham line up.
Birmingham was the first time that wheelchair basketball had been included as part of the Commonwealth Games and the Welsh Wheelchair Basketball squads visited the Team Wales house to celebrate the squad’s journey so far – as well as recognising the achievements of the athletes, coaching staff and team managers – and to help inspire them towards future international sporting success.
Gemma Cutter, Disability Sport Wales Performance Pathway Senior Officer, said: “This is all about bringing the Welsh women and men’s senior Welsh Wheelchair Basketball squads together to immerse themselves in the Team Wales environment and to inspire them for the next Commonwealth Games cycle, in the hope that Wheelchair Basketball is included in the 2026 Games. There is tremendous talent and potential in the very young teams, and the future is looking extremely bright for Welsh Wheelchair Basketball.”
Anastasia Blease, Captain of the Women’s Welsh Wheelchair Basketball squad, said: “I’m extremely proud to be invited by Team Wales to soak up the Commonwealth Games atmosphere and be presented with our vests. It’s a shame we didn’t qualify for Birmingham 2022, but we knew the calibre of teams that we were up against and we’re a super young squad. We’re learning all the time; we’re getting better the more competitive matches we play and the future is looking very bright. It was great to visit the Team Wales house and it has inspired us a lot. I’ve always been a proud Welsh girl and whilst it’s great to wear the Team GB shirt it means even more to put on the red vest of our home nation – and that’s very much our aim for bigger international tournaments and hopefully the next Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Australia in 2026.”
Dan May, Captain of the Men’s Welsh Wheelchair Basketball squad: “The atmosphere at the Team Wales house was amazing and just being able to chill out with all of your team-mates off the court, but still within an intense basketball environment, is great. It’s putting fuel in the tank and giving us the drive to go forward and qualify for these big international tournaments.”