EXETER'S Judith Hamer helped Great Britain make history at the 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship as the team battled to a 77-70 overtime win against the London 2012 Paralympic silver medallists Australia.
The victory secured the nation both a top five finish and the GB Women’s highest ever placing at a World Championship.
Competing in her second World Championship, the 23-year-old put on fantastic performances throughout the Championship, starting in pool stages where the GB Women’s team played their way to the Quarter Finals with wins over Brazil (56-37), Japan (62-48), and China (64-47) – only losing out to the eventual Champions Canada (52-59) and runners-up Germany (33-55).
The Quarter Final saw Great Britain take on reigning World Champions, the USA for a place in the semi-finals; the American team eventually emerging victorious with a gritty 53-41 victory.
This meant that the GB Women entered the 5th-8th Play Offs with their first game against France. After the previous day’s Quarter Final heartbreak, the game saw Great Britain bounce back in stunning fashion as they overcame a strong performance by their opponents to seal both a 58-41 win and a place in the 5th-6th Play Off Game.
Great Britain – whose highest finish at the Worlds coming into the 2014 Championship had been sixth place, achieved in both 2010 and 1994 – then took on the London 2012 Paralympic silver medallists Australia with both teams looking to end the Championship with a win and the fifth spot.
In a nail-biting encounter, the GB Women sealed an 18-16 lead at the end of the first quarter before working to a 35-28 advantage at half time. Australia, however, hit back in the third quarter to close the gap to just one point; Great Britain nevertheless still ahead by 49-48. Then, at the end of the fourth quarter, Australia’s Amber Merritt tied the game on 64 points apiece, causing the game to enter overtime.
The GB Women’s team demonstrated phenomenal composure during overtime, finding another level to close out a 77-70 win and the nation’s highest ever finish of fifth place.
On Great Britain’s historical win, GB Women’s Head Coach Miles Thompson said: “It feels like the natural step in our progression: we needed a win like that to kick start this programme into the elite and that’s what we did. We had some exceptional performances out there individually, but you could also feel the team aspect of where we’re headed – it’s great.”
Judith Hamer, who scored an incredible 72 points throughout the Championship and was Great Britain’s top scorer for two of the team’s eight games, said: “The Championship has been really good: fifth is our best placing ever and to be in the top five in the world has a really good ring to it!
“I think that we proved to ourselves and to other teams that we’ve really improved in the last couple of months and so imagine what we can do over the next two years in the lead up to the Rio Paralympic Games! It’s promising and exciting for the future!”