Earlier this year, Charlie McIntyre made his Commonwealth Games and major international multi-sports debut in Birmingham for Team England, coming away with the Bronze medal in the 3×3 wheelchair basketball event alongside Tyler Baines, Lee Manning and Abderrahim Taghrest. In 2021, Charlie began playing wheelchair basketball for the Wakefield Whirlwinds team, and during his career so far, he has won the Junior Championships, Gold at the School Games alongside his England teammate Abderrahim, and he recently won Silver at the Regional Championships upon his return from the Commonwealth Games. Answering our questions, Charlie spoke about competing at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, winning Bronze for Team England in the 3×3 wheelchair basketball competition and joining the Wakefield Whirlwinds team.
Can you tell us how you found the experience making your Commonwealth Games debut this year in Birmingham and how was it competing at Smithfield for the first time?
My experience at the Commonwealth Games was unbelievable, I am still speechless about the whole event. At the kitting out process, where we received our jerseys, it was a truly incredible moment where I simply smiled to myself and sent a photo straight to my parents. Competing at the Smithfield arena was amazing. Me and Abs (Taghrest) went for a media day three weeks prior to the Games where it was still almost a construction site, so then to go back and see the whole complex was immense. They did such a great job at building a massive stadium whilst keeping a chilled and happy environment.
How was it competing in front of a home crowd for your first major international multi-sports event and how did you feel finding out you’d been selected for Team England?
I don’t think I realised how big the fact it was a home Games really was until playing the first game, hearing our names being called out to a loud roar from the crowd was breathtaking. I feel so lucky to say I have competed at a home nation major Games as many athletes never get to experience such a historic moment. When I found out I was a part of Team England, I was simply buzzing, it was such a lovely moment for my whole family.
What was it like having 3×3 wheelchair basketball included in the sports featured at the Commonwealth Games and how was it competing alongside your England teammates Tyler Baines, Lee Manning and Abderrahim Taghrest?
Playing alongside my team was one of the best parts of the experience. Although I have known Abs for a long time, I had never met Tyler or Lee but the way we all clicked as a group was so natural which then allowed us to perform on the stage as we all had a sort of connection. The fact 3×3 was in the limelight for a tournament, in my opinion, is a great thing for the wheelchair basketball community as it has a thrilling entertainment factor which draws attention into the sport, which can hopefully allow it to grow.
How was it winning the Bronze after competing in the Bronze Medal Match against Malaysia and how did you stay focused during the game?
Winning the Bronze was such a big relief. The previous night meant that all the team and staff felt a sort of heartbreak which was indescribable, it was devastating. But then to come back the next day and regroup the way we did, to not only win the Bronze, but also gain the 21-point limit of 3×3. The focus started from the get-go really. The whole team wanted to end the tournament on a high so badly that it allowed us to get into the game with a high tempo and perform.
What was it like attending the opening ceremony and staying in the athletes village?
The opening ceremony was the best night of my life. To hear the roar when we entered the track was breathtaking, the support was incredible.
How did you prepare for the Commonwealth Games and can you tell us about your typical training day?
I usually train on the court two to three times a week with multiple gym sessions in there which allowed me to perform throughout the training camps. From pretty much June, we attended training camps over the country where we played a lot of games to get us ready.
What did you enjoy most about representing Team England and do you have any favourite memories from competing at this year’s Commonwealth Games?
The whole tournament is one massive great memory, I honestly could not pick out a few individual moments. Representing Team England gave my family and I so much pride!
We understand you are part of the Wakefield Whirlwinds team, can you tell us about this and what was it like winning the Junior Championships?
Last season was a tough season due to the mental state I was in, whereby at December I almost gave up playing basketball, I decided to do a mid-season transfer to Wakefield (when I live in Essex) to play with my friends, which was amazing. It sparked the passion and love I have for basketball, I am so thankful for Whirlwinds letting me join last year. We had an extremely successful season, not only getting promoted to the premier division, but we also won the Junior Championships, which is something I have never done before. It was my first time playing in front of a decent-sized crowd, which perhaps helped when playing in front of nearly 3000 people at the Commonwealths.
How was it winning Gold at the 3×3 Wheelchair Basketball School Games last year alongside your England teammate Abderrahim?
Winning the School Games was amazing as it was my first big tournament I ever went to. It was sad that there were no spectators due to the COVID pandemic but to come away with a Gold medal was astonishing. My teammate in this competition was Abderrahim, which was so much fun as Abs is such a laugh to be around so to be his teammate is always fun, and then obviously he is an incredible player, which helps also!
Where does your love of basketball come from and is it something you always wanted to do professionally?
My love for basketball was almost instant. As soon as I went to my first session, I instantly fell in love with the sport. I had always been a sporty child before getting my disability, so then finding wheelchair basketball shortly after my diagnosis was almost a godsend. I have always known that I have wanted to take the sport seriously, however, I don’t think I perhaps believed it was possible until my early teens where I began getting engulfed in the sport massively.
Have you been given any advice throughout your basketball career so far that has stuck with you and what advice would you give a new wheelchair basketball player?
Throughout my career I have received so much advice, however, a bit of advice I would always relay to other players would be to fully engage themselves within the sport and let themselves fall in love with the game. It can be intimidating at first joining a new club or trying something new, but basketball is nothing to be scared of! It connects so many people in so many ways which is really the beauty of it.
Do you have any competitions coming up that you can tell us about or that you are targeting?
The weekend after returning from the Commonwealths, I played in the Regional Championships where I won a Silver medal and then a few weeks later I competed in the School Games, however, due to injury, I had to pull out of the competition, which is a shame. My target will be to keep improving and growing as an athlete and person and almost see what happens, there are a few tournaments next year which I am interested in, however, they depend on whether I get selected!
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