It’s official. Great Britain have been awarded a spot at next year’s Olympic Games in London, and it ends years of speculation and doubt as British basketball fans will remember Sunday March 13th 2011 as the day that basketball in Britain changed, for the better.
FIBA’s central board, comprised of 22 members decided that Great Britain will be able to compete in next Summer’s Games by a majority vote of 17-3. The news in Lyon was a sign of relief for British Basketball Federation chairman Bill McInnes and all involved with British basketball. The news was flooded all over Twitter and Facebook by loyal Great Britain fans, and the news was also greeted with loud cheers during a British Basketball League game between the Cheshire Jets and Guildford Heat.
A Twitter account supporting Great Britain’s participation in the Games was set-up, and thousands of fans signed a giant Team GB “Say Yes” jersey, which arrived in Lyon as the meeting was taking place.
The players were understandably ecstatic over the announcement. Forward, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, who had been in Lyon all day meeting with delegates as Great Britain’s unofficial ambassador said to assorted media that the Brits will do more than just show up.
Pops said: ” We’re not going just to make up the numbers. We want to go there and show that British basketball deserves its place among the top countries in the world.
“I’m overjoyed now it’s official. This is beyond our wildest dreams. I’m so inspired that I feel like going to the gym right now.”
Chicago Bulls star Luol Deng, a Great Britain international said on his Twitter feed: “Got the news we will be playing London2012. Thanks for all your messages! Can’t wait to play in London.”
Despite the monumental news, the central board have set a deadline of 30th June 2012 for the home nations (England, Scotland and Wales) to join forces to make one British Federation or have three separate basketball federations.
British Olympic Association Chief Executive Andy Hunt said: ” We are delighted that FIBA has rightfully given both the men’s and women’s British basketball teams the opportunity to compete for Team GB in front of an enthusiastic home crowd at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“Today’s decision is recognition of the excellent progress made by British Basketball on and off the court over the last five years and represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the sport to significantly increase its participation and profile, and leave a lasting legacy throughout the UK.
“We are confident that the British players will thrill the public with credible, exciting performances and by showcasing their skill and talent, inspire new generations of basketball players across the UK.”
Basketball was the last sport to be confirmed with homegrown participation, and the decision was the only one not made by the British Olympic Association.
John Hobbs for TalkBasket.net
Quotes taken from www.mvp247.com