Charlie helps East Midlands to golden hat-trick

CHARLIE Bonner’s wheelchair basketball career reached new heights last weekend representing the East Midlands.

Charlie, 13, who lives in Kirton, was part of the Under 15 team who won gold for the third year running at the Lord’s Taverners National Junior Championships.

Charlie and his team mates, drawn from across Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, won the title at the Stoke Mandeville Paralympic Stadium in Aylesbury.

East Midlands finished top of their pool after convincing wins over London (26-8), West Midlands (16-12), Yorkshire (25-8) and Wales (26-7) so were in a good place for the knock-out stages of the competition.

Their quarter-final game against South East saw East Midlands through with a strong 29–14 win.

The semi-final game against East showcased the defensive strength of East Midlands.

In a pretty one-sided affair, East Midlands dominated the court, racking up five baskets in the first half and a further four in the second to win 19-4.

His result set up a mouth-watering encounter for the final against Northern Ireland in a replay of last year’s final.

The atmosphere in the crowd was electric, with Northern Ireland seeking to turn around their defeat from last year.

In a closely contested first half, East Midlands opened the scoring, but Northern Ireland kept coming back.

Charlie scored the East Midlands second basket, but at the end of the first half the scores were fairly even with East Midlands only one basket ahead 8–6.

Four second half baskets from Charlie’s team-mate Liam Hassell, and two from team captain Jake Robinson, meant East Midlands were able to keep their noses in front, and at the final whistle East Midlands ran out victorious 20–16.

Medals were presented by former West Ham United and England footballer Sir Trevor Brooking; representatives from the Lord’s Taverners charity, who sponsor the event; and Murray Treseder, the Great Britain Men’s Paralympic wheelchair basketball team head coach.

Charlie plays for the Newark Jaguars in the National Junior League.

The Jaguars are looking to defend the league title they have won for the previous two seasons.

Anyone wishing to try this exciting paralympic sport should contact team coach Simon Bonner, simondbonner@aol.com for information about training and fixtures.