In a breathtaking conclusion to the 2024 IWBF Asia Oceania Championships, Australia emerged triumphant, clinching the gold medal and earning a direct qualification for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. The championship clash between Australia and Iran unfolded as a tense and closely contested battle, culminating in a nail-biting two-point victory for the Australians, with a final score of 53-51.

The game’s decisive moments unfolded in the closing seconds, with Iran attempting a crucial shot to level the score. However, the shot missed its mark, allowing Australia to secure the championship title in a dramatic fashion.

Australia’s captain, Tristan Knowles, expressed his team’s joy at winning the Championships saying:

“It’s a really important part of the journey. We are currently ranked number seven in the world, which is not where we like to be. After the World Championships last year, we made a lot of changes to our program, including a complete overhaul of our coaching staff. We’ve assembled a team of twelve players that we believe can achieve something very, very special.

“This week was probably evidence for us that we’re on the right pathway. We faced tough competition from Japan, Iran, Korea, all very, very fierce opponents. Additionally, teams like China and Thailand are consistently improving every time we play them. Our zone is tremendously strong, making this victory even more special.But it’s only a small step on the journey that we’re on, and our ultimate goal is Paris. Our program has a proud history of success. When this group came together a few months ago with new coaching staff, our sights were set on reaching the top. We won’t feel fulfilled unless we become the number-one team in the world.”

“We’re really excited to represent our zone at Paris, but it’s only a small step in the journey that we’re on as a group.”

While Australia celebrated their gold medal, Iran secured the silver medal and a second opportunity to qualify for Paris 2024. The Iranian team will now set their sights on the IWBF 2024 Men’s Repechage tournament in Antibes this April, offering another chance to secure a coveted spot in the Paralympic Games.

Korea claims consolation Bronze

In the bronze medal match, Korea overcame Japan, with Dong Hyeon Gim’s outstanding double-double performance of 23 points and 15 rebounds leading the way. Despite the disappointment of missing out on a chance to go to Paris 2024, Korea claimed the bronze, leaving Japan in fourth place.

Championship Rankings decided

The day also witnessed the determination of other teams in the competition. China outlasted Thailand in an 86-74 battle, securing the fifth-place finish, while Thailand settled for sixth. Saudi Arabia claimed seventh place with a 57-48 victory over Afghanistan. The 9-11 place games were decided in a three-way play-off, with the Philippines emerging victorious in two out of three games to secure the ninth spot. UAE defeated New Zealand, ensuring them 10th place, while New Zealand finished in 11th.

The 2024 IWBF Asia Oceania Championships provided a thrilling showcase of skill, determination, and sportsmanship, setting the stage for the next chapter in the journey toward Paris 2024.

Catch all the action on the IWBF YouTube Channel and visit the event page for the schedule, results, and statistics.

Photo Credits – X-1 /IWBF