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25 October 2012

Australian wheelchair rugby squad named Best Team for August and September

The Australian wheelchair rugby squad has been voted the International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) Best Team of the Month for August and September after winning gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Star player Ryley Batt led the team to an undefeated record and the Paralympic wheelchair rugby title in London with a 66-51 win over Canada in the championship match.

Batt scored 37 points in the final game to finish the tournament with 161 points in five matches. Chris Bond added 15 points in the title match to top off his successful Paralympic 
debut.

"We didn't come here for nothing," Bond said in London.

While more than half of Australia's players participated in their first Paralympics in the British capital, team veteran and four-time Paralympian Greg Smith had the honour of being the country's Opening Ceremony flag bearer in addition to hoping to better his silver medal from Beijing 2008 in his final Games.

"At this stage there will be no more Games as an athlete," Smith said. "It's probably time to step back and say I've really enjoyed the experience. I can look back and say it has been great and I've taken two sports to the top level and been able to succeed at them." 

The first-place finish was just as sweet for Naz Erdem, who finally won a Paralympic title game in his third attempt.

"It's a great feeling and hopefully it won't be too long until Australia wins the gold medal again," Erdem said.

Australia garnered 39 per cent of the public's vote on Paralympic.org to win the award, just barely edging out Canada's men's wheelchair basketball team, which finished with 32 per cent of the vote.

Other teams up for the honour included: Bosnia men's sitting volleyball, Brazil football 5-a-side, China women's sitting volleyball, Finland men's goalball and Germany women's basketball.

Because of the London 2012 Games, the IPC did not have an Athlete of the Month for August or September, but rather had three award winners for the two months. Previously, Italian handcyclist Alex Zanardi won Best Male Athlete and American handcyclist Muffy Davis received the award for Best Female Athlete. 

To help compile the shortlists for each category the IPC took nominations from the National Paralympic Committees and International Sport Federations that took part in the London 2012 Games