5 September 2021
Choudhry rallies men's wheelchair basketball team to valiant bronze
Gaz Choudhry was hailed for his leadership and vision as ParalympicsGB won men’s wheelchair basketball bronze for the fourth time in five Games.
The three-time Paralympian stepped up to take on the role of player-coach after Haj Bhania tested positive for Covid-19 before flying out to Tokyo.
The 36-year-old Choudhry has been a key part of the team since making his international debut in 2009 and won bronze in Rio five years ago – but this was his greatest achievement.
After the disappointment of a semi-final defeat to hosts Japan, ParalympicsGB overcame Spain to claim the final spot on the podium with a 68-58 victory at the Ariake Arena.
The way Gaz has led this team and brought us together – the bond we have in this group is something really special.
And Choudhry not only picked the team and called the tactics but top scored with 19 points, aided by close friend and five-time Games veteran Terry Bywater with 14 points.
“We can’t say enough about Gaz, the way he’s led this team and brought us together – the bond we have in this group is something really special,” said Bywater, who revealed he gave an impassioned speech to the group on the eve of the match.
“I’ve got four Paralympic bronze medals but it’s fair to say this one means just a bit more because of all the sacrifices we’ve made and tough times we’ve had.
“This game is about who has heart. Both us and Spain were broken hearted after the semi-finals but we wanted it.
Hands up if you've won a Paralympic medal
“I was a bit worried about some of the guys but Gaz did any amazing job of picking up the team.”
Choudhry deflected praise from his team-mates and vowed to finally turn a run of Paralympic bronzes into something just a bit more shiny in Paris, just as Great Britain did at the last World Championships.
“All we’ve done with this medal is validate this team to the outside but for us internally, we were validated already,” he said.
“This bronze medal is for everyone else. We know where we were, but now we’ve won it, it definitely feels more than a bronze.
This team deserves a gold. This group absolutely deserves a gold.
“There are some guys that aren’t here that are at home.
“When they come back into the team, we are absolutely adamant we want a gold before it’s all said and done, and Paris is what we’re going for.
“In three years, any other variables we don’t have, we’re going to go back and correct those so we have an even better chance of making the final.
“It was the collective identity of this group. We’ve had so many knock backs all summer. We relied on that experience of being resilient and being courageous.”
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