Great Britain women’s U25 team will be captained by Joy Haizelden at the 2019 Women’s U25 World Championship in Suphanburi, Thailand.
Haizelden may only be 20 years old, but has already got a wealth of international experience at senior and junior world level. She was part of the GB team that made history at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and the 2018 World Championships, finishing fourth and third respectively, the teams highest ever placing at each event. She was also part of the GB team who won gold at the 2015 Women’s U25 World Championship in Beijing, China.
Despite being a constant member of the GB squad over the past four years, the 2.5 classified player explained what it still means to her to play at the World Championships.
“It is always an honour to put the GB vest on, so when the opportunity to represent my country arises it fills me with pride. It symbolises all the hard work I have put in to be where I am today. Knowing that I, and the rest of team, will get to compete against some of best female junior players at the U25 World Championships is a challenge that we are eager to meet.
“Any major tournament is always a privilege to attend, but what I’m most excited about is the opportunity to showcase the talent of the GB U25 programme on a world stage. The fact that we have participated in three U25 World Championships is fantastic and a testament to the faith that British Wheelchair Basketball has in us.”
Haizelden is not the only member of the GB team who has represented their country at senior level, and because of the strength of the squad, expectations on GB are high to perform well in Thailand.
Commenting on this, Haizelden said, “As the reigning U25 World Champions we will be looking to defend the title, but before jumping ahead, we must take it a game at a time, then the aim is to make it to the semi-finals and take it from there. These tournaments can be unpredictable and there are some great quality teams competing so you never know what could happen.
“I think USA and Australia are going to be among the strongest teams at this competition. Japan could also be good. We’ll probably look at the priorities on each team and see if there are any weaknesses that we can exploit. I think the main thing is to concentrate on our own team performance, how well we can gel together, and control our own energy and effort.”
As a player that has developed from U25 level to senior level, using the U25 Women’s World Championship as a tool to develop, Haizelden views the Championship in high regard.
“The Women’s U25 World Championship showcases future emerging talent, not just from GB, but from all over the world. It is so important for female athletes in general to have a tournament like this because most of the time we play alongside and against men, and to play with and against female athletes of similar age is vital for the development of the player.”
Great Britain will open their 2019 Women’s U25 World Championship campaign against Japan on Thursday 23rd May at 13.45 (local time).
Image courtesy of SA Images (British Wheelchair Basketball)