Rewinding the medium will bring great moments for Canadian Olympic and Paralympic athletes. This week’s episode again recalls the moment when a Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball team grabbed Germany for gold at the 2014 World Cup in Toronto.
Winning the World Cup at home in front of family and friends is a difficult task.
For Arinn Young, this is a feeling that she has been chasing since.
“For every athlete, this is one of a million chances to do it,” Young said of his victory in Canada. “This is surreal. To this day, this is still one of the highlights of my career. ”
Resigned Canadian wheelchair basketball superstar Janet McLachlan smiles as she recalls this “incredible race” at these 2014 World Championships.
“Honestly, I still can’t believe that this happened. Eight years have passed, and it has not yet reached me. It really didn’t sink, ”said McLachlan from her home in Giessen, Germany, where she lives with her fiancé Nikolai Zeltinger, head coach of the German men’s wheelchair team, and their two-year-old daughter Kaylee.
“Being at home was huge for us. It could go either way – for example, too much pressure, but for some reason all the parts came together. We knew that we could achieve great success. But win at home? hard to put into words.
McLachlan represented Canada at the three Paralympic Games and was the team’s top scorer in London in 2012, but in 2014 she was still looking for the first major title in her career, hoping to join such great national players before her as Chantal Benoit, Marnie Abbott- Peter and 2014 teammate Tracy Ferguson.
Relive the dramatic finale between Canada and Germany on Wednesday, starting at 9am ET.
While you are watching this match, join us at CBC Olympics Instagram Channel Wednesday at 9:30 am ET for a live Instagram feed with Canadian star Cindy Owell and CBC Sports host Andy Petrillo.
WATCH | To heart, with Cindy Owell:
Legacy in and out of court
When McLachlan said “all the pieces came together,” it really happened on and off the court, according to Wendy Gittens, executive director of Wheelchair Basketball Canada.
Gittens was the director of the 2014 World Tournament, for the first time the women’s tournament was held as a separate event, and wheelchair basketball in Canada wanted to make sure that it was equal to the competition for men, if not better in terms of profiling.
“I think we have set a new standard and raised the bar for events for the international federation,” said Gittens, whose organization also hosted the World Cup for women under 25 in wheelchairs in 2011 and is exploring future hosting options.
“We broadcast every game in a“ game by game ”mode, we launched a school program so that we had asses on the seats, and this week we introduced sports and athletes with disabilities to more than 30,000 students. All of these things have not been completed in the past to this level. We were downtown Toronto at Mattamy Athletic Center [formerly Maple Leaf Gardens] with your story.
“We really wanted to improve our game in order to host a world-class event and open people’s eyes to the value of para-sports.”
Game-by-game commentator Rob Snowk had a unique promising court playing field, calling 2014 worlds. An experienced sports presenter is also a three-time Paralympic athlete.
His first experience in high-level wheelchair basketball was at the Barcelona Games in 1992, and he watched the gold medal of the women’s program from Sydney through 2000.
“I saw how far they went, turning from a dominant team for so many years into a transition to one or two levels, and then rising again and eventually winning gold against Germany. It was huge for the Canadian program. ”
“As a broadcaster, you certainly try to be as objective as possible, but as a Canadian, there is a part of you that is still proud that women do what they did.”
Outsiders at home
Despite the advantage of a home venue, Canada was not one of the favorites of the tournament. At that time, they were ranked 6th in the world, and the national program, which won three Paralympic gold medals in a row from 1992 to 2000, completely completed the podium in Beijing and London.
“Entering these worlds in 2014, other countries seemed to be laughing at us. They did not think we would win, ”Young said. “But we felt differently. We needed to prove that Canada is still the best. Part of this confidence came from the internal battles of each of the past few seasons. It just partly affected the soul of every athlete, everyone just had the feeling that we were going to win. “
According to MacLachlan, in Canadians there was a big turn of senior athletes and players who played a lot of minutes at the previous Paralympic Games and World Championships, but that did not bother them. There was a positive mood around the 2014 team and they were focused from the very beginning.
The preliminary round won double-digit victories over Japan, Brazil and China, as well as over Britain. The only drawback was the loss of 11 points against Germany, the No. 1 team and the current Paralympic champions.
“Despite the fact that we lost this game, we were close,” said MacLachlan. “After this game, we went to the kangaroo and said:“ Don’t worry, we know that we can defeat these guys. ”
They would have had another opportunity for the Germans, but first an epic semi-final against the Netherlands came out. The Dutch were tied like a tournament dark horse, a country on the rise that remained unbeaten in the tournament.
Canada showed an advantage of nine points, losing less than 2:30 in the game, but the Dutch returned with some sharp shooting, taking advantage of 74-73 with a lag of 9.8 seconds. The performance was composed – take the ball to McLaclan.
Katie Harnock returned to Cindy Owell back to Harnock, who found McLachlan on her right elbow and with two players on it like a postage stamp, she calmly waved a shot from 0.8 seconds to enter Canada into the game with a gold medal.
“Janet was very calm when she played, she rarely showed emotion,” says Young. “But when she got this bucket, for her the pump was so big, and the bench for the pump with her … just wow.”
“It showed that they deserve to be there,” said Snoyek. “This showed that they can overcome adversity, and may have hinted that they are destined to win.”
“No one on the team had such an experience. She said: “We did a hard job, we got to the finals, we know that we can defeat them.” And the way she said then helped us find the part that we need to defeat Germany in the final. ”
While it was a game like “the edge of your place”, Canadians led the whole way, even worrying the Germans with a score of 8-0 in the fourth quarter.
The confidence that Canadians gained throughout the tournament was in full swing in the final. They were focused. They did all the little things right. They played to the end.
And when those last seconds passed before the buzzer, MacLachlan and her teammates looked at each other in complete shock.
“The five of us are at the site. I think this distrust was there, because we worked so much and lost so many times to Germany. To finally bring it all together and do it right, and win at home in front of our family, friends, fans, people who supported us all the way.
“I never thought I would become a world champion, never.”
This victory was the first gold medal at the World Championships in Canada since 2006. Their series of four in a row was interrupted in 2010.
Among those who celebrated with the team was a group of energetic graduates who flew to the tournament.
“This speaks of our women’s program for many years. We have had such a rich success story internationally since the early 1990s, ”Gittens said. “I think that the culture of victory and the closeness of these teams over the years has simply continued. Wheelchair basketball is a family, and it shows when you have that kind of support. ”
McLachlan retired as a player in 2017, but did not leave the game. She is one of the few women head coaches in professional wheelchairs (she works in the fields with RSV Lahn-Dill in the Bundesliga, historically one of the best club teams in the world) and, in a funny turn of events, is also an assistant coach for the German women’s wheelchair team.
In May, Young would be in Toronto at the Pan Am sports center, getting ready for the Paralympic Games with her teammates, but instead she lives on a farm in Legal, Alta, and trains in the basement and at the local school gym (benefits living in a small town , She is laughing).
Eight years later, this first international tournament made a lasting impression.
She thanks McLachlan, Harnock, and current Owell teammate for helping bring her game to the next level.
As for the 2014 heritage, it continues with this new generation of players.
“I was lucky to see everything I did,” Young said. “To see the best of the best at the time.
“Now we strive to be the best. 12 girls in our team, we know what we are capable of, and we are very confident that we will go to Tokyo 2021 to prove ourselves in the best way and, I hope, will come out with the gold medal that we all hoped for.