As a 3×3 wheelchair basketball player, Abderrahim Taghrest made his Commonwealth and senior competition debut at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, which was also the first time 3×3 wheelchair basketball was one of the sports at a Commonwealth Games. Abderrahim, alongside his England teammates Tyler Baines, Lee Manning and Charlie McIntyre, won the Bronze medal after competing against Malaysia in the Bronze Medal Match last month. At the 2021 School Games, Abderrahim was selected for the wheelchair basketball team, where they won Gold, and throughout his wheelchair basketball career, he has been a player for London Titans. Talking with us, Abderrahim tells us about making his Commonwealth Games debut at Birmingham this year, winning the 3×3 wheelchair basketball Bronze medal with Team England and being part of London Titans WBC.
You have recently finished making your Commonwealth Games debut in Birmingham, how did you find the experience at your first Commonwealth Games?
My first experience at the Commonwealth Games was absolutely amazing, to be honest, being my first senior major competition, I’ve never experienced anything so high level and exciting and hope to be at the next Games.
What was it like having 3×3 wheelchair basketball as one of the sports at the Games and how did you feel finding out you’d been selected for the team?
It was surreal being selected for the team, as before trials, I had never expected to be even within the final six reserves, but I was overjoyed when I was told the news. Obviously, being in a team that got to compete in wheelchair basketball’s first appearance at the Commonwealth Games was a major honour, and I believe we did the occasion justice and advocated positively for our sport as a whole.
Team England came away with the Bronze medal, what was it like competing in the Bronze Medal Match against Malaysia and how was it winning the Bronze?
Again, absolutely crazy winning Bronze, even though we came into the competition with our sights set on Gold, we knew we had to bounce back quickly from the disappointment against Australia in the Semi-Final and, as a team, the Bronze Medal Match was the best we’ve ever played together, especially against some tough opposition in Malaysia.
How did you prepare in the lead-up to the competition and how do you stay motivated during the matches?
There was a lot of preparation building up to the Games itself, such as many training camps and team-building exercises. In my opinion, I found no issue with staying motivated during matches as I knew that this was such a massive opportunity to be able to compete in. Such a prestigious competition.
What was it like staying in the athletes village and attending the opening ceremony?
Staying in the athletes village was a great experience, as all athletes from different sports and nations were mixed together, which created an amazing atmosphere where you could get to know many different people from different cultures and sports.
What did you enjoy most about representing England in front of a home crowd and competing with your teammates Tyler Baines, Lee Manning and Charlie McIntyre?
Playing in front of the home crowd was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, every time we entered the arena, scored a basket or made a highlight play, the arena roared. For me, the best part of competing in the Commonwealth Games was sharing the court with some amazing teammates. Me and Charlie have known each other for many years and both played together at an U15 junior level, so it’s crazy to me that we’ve now competed at a major senior competition at 17 and 18. Lee and Tyler brought much-needed experience to an extremely young team and without them, the competition would have been almost impossible to compete and strive in.
Do you have any favourite memories from competing at this year’s Commonwealth Games and having this as your first senior competition?
My favourite memory from this year’s Commonwealth Games has definitely been when the final buzzer rung confirming our medal and being called into a team huddle by Lee.
Last year, you won Gold at the 3×3 Wheelchair Basketball School Games alongside your Team England teammate Charlie, what was this like and how was the experience?
Obviously, the School Games were an extremely fun tournament to take part in as generally all of us are all mates just playing against each other for bragging rights.
We understand you are part of London Titans WBC, can you say about this?
I’ve been a player at the London Titans for my whole wheelchair basketball life and without them I can 100% say I wouldn’t be where I am now.
What are some of your stand-out highlights from being a basketball player over the years?
My stand-out highlight has to be competing in a home Games.
Where does your love of basketball come from and was there anything that inspired you to take it up professionally?
My love of wheelchair basketball has definitely grown through all of my friends and teammates within the sport and I’ve been inspired by the best players in the world such as Lee Manning to start working towards competing professionally and at the highest level I can.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Generally, in my free time I like to watch sports and hang out with mates, being a massive Arsenal fan, football takes up a lot of my free time away from basketball and school.
Do you have any competitions coming up that you can tell us about or that you are hoping to target?
A competition I’m aiming to be competing in is the U23 European Championships for Team GB, however, this is still not confirmed to be happening.
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