Sport Week: Six wheelchair basketball storylines20.03.2016
Here are three storylines to follow in the men’s, and three from the women’s sides.
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Editor’s note: Each sport on the Rio 2016 Paralympic programme will have a dedicated week of featured content published on paralympic.org. Every week a new sport will be featured and the series will run until September’s Games, helping the public understand more about the 22 sports being contested in Rio.
Canada, Australia can equal showpiece record
If Canada and Australia both make the men’s gold medal final match in Rio, they will equal Israel and the USA’s four consecutive showdowns between 1968 and 1980. Currently Canada have the advantage over Australia with three wins. But they will be out to avenge their six-point loss in London 2012.
In qualifications for the Rio Paralympic Games, Australia were comfortable gold medallists at the Asia-Oceanic International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) Championship, going through the preliminary rounds undefeated, beating Iran by 18 points in the final. However Canada ranked second behind the USA in the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games losing the final 62-39.
Great Britain, the USA potential finals showdown
At the last five Paralympic Games, either Great Britain or the USA have picked up the bronze medal. They will both look to do better at Rio 2016. At Toronto 2015, the USA went through undefeated. They were ruthless against Puerto Rico winning 95-36 and Venezuela 99-21. Brazil was the only team to give them a scare avoiding a double-digit deficit.
Similarly, Great Britain had no trouble in the European Championships last year beating Turkey 87-66 for gold. The British dropped only one game in the round matches to Poland but were largely dominant against all other teams.
Turkey on the rise
A team that has improved since London 2012 is Turkey and will be one to watch in Rio. They finished a disappointing seventh in London, but showed that they can play stronger after taking runner-up to gold medallists Great Britain at the 2013 European Championships. After runner-up again to Great Britain in the 2015 European Championships, Turkey could be a dark horse at Rio.
German-Dutch European rivalry
Germany and the Netherlands will add a new chapter to a rivalry that stretches back to the late 1980s. The pair have met at every European Championship final since 1989 – that is 13 times they have faced off in the finals. Germany has the slight edge head-to-head (8-5) but most of the current Dutch team will draw confidence in having beaten them just over two years ago. With the defending Paralympics silver medallists Australia failing to qualify for Rio, the Netherlands and Germany may be the showpiece game in the Paralympic arena. They have actually never met in a Paralympic gold medal match.
Battle of the shooters
The top point scoring statistic for this year’s Paralympics will be heavily contested amongst at least three players if their recent form continues. Netherland’s Mariska Beijer, USA’s Rebecca Murray and Canada’s Janet McLachlan have all topped the count in recent competitions. Beijer averaged 23.6 at the 2015 European championships, Murray totaled 72 points from the 2015 Parapan American Games, and McLachlan was the highest scorer at London 2012.
Brazil, China to make strong starts at Rio
China sent shockwaves through this year’s qualifications when they knocked out defending champions Australia to book their place in Rio. Their impressive tournament was not limited to the gold medal match, which they won 59-43, but they had beaten Australia twice in the pool matches as well. They will be looking to do better than the seventh they finished in Beijing eight years ago. Meanwhile, host nation Brazil will participate for the first time since their debut in Athens 2004 and with the enthusiastic home crowd behind the home team, they will look to impress and push for their first medal in the event.
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs).
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.