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9 August 2013

Antwerp 2013: Team previews

By Beau Greenway for IPC

 

The 2013 IWRF Wheelchair Ruby European Championships will begin on Monday (12 August) in Antwerp, Belgium, drawing the continent’s top 12 teams together.

 

Sweden enter the event as the defending European champions, while host nation Belgium will look to get back to the top of the podium for the first time since 2009 after settling for bronze in 2011.

 

Sweden, France, Great Britain and Belgium all took part in the London 2012 Paralympics. Here’s a brief breakdown of all of the teams competing.

 

Pool A

 

Belgium

Hosts Belgium will be looking for a good performance in front of their home crowd this year and are chasing their second European Championship title after winning bronze in 2011 over France, 52-51. They will be looking for the perfect start when they start their campaign against Austria on the opening night.

 

Championship medals: Gold (2009) Silver (2003) Bronze (2007, 2011)

Paralympic medals: None

Head Coach: Pascale Wouters

Squad: Ludwig Buderners, Peter Genyn, Raf Hendrix, Bieke Ketelbuters, Lars Mertens, Ive Theuwissen, Bob Vanacker, Ronald Verhaegen, Frederik Windey

 

Great Britain

Alan Ash’s Great Britain side enters the tournament as the highest-ranked nation and will be after its fifth European Championship gold medal after narrowly going down to Sweden in the final in 2011, 49-42. Also, be sure to watch star veteran player Mandip Sehmi.

Their first match is against Austria on Tuesday (13 August).

 

Championship medals: Gold (1995, 2003, 2005, 2007) Silver ( 1997, 2011) Bronze (1999)

Paralympic medals: None

Head Coach: Paul Shaw

Squad: Jonathon Coggan, Muhammad Fakrul, Bulbul Hussain, Michael Kerr, Myles Pearson, Alan Ash, Chris Ryan, Gavin Walker, Mandip Sehmi, Ayaz Bhuta, Paul McDerby, James Roberts

 

Germany

Joe Soares will be looking to take Germany to its first European Championship gold medal after having been silver medallists on three occasions. They are in Pool A and commence the tournament against the Czech Republic.

 

Championship medals: Silver (1999, 2005, 2007) Bronze (1997, 2003, 2009)

Paralympic medals: None

Head Coach: Joe Soares

Squad: Maik Baumann, Artur Bertram, Christian Gotze, Maximillian Haberkorn, Kevin Kramer, Andrej Leonhard, Fabian Muller, Christian Paschke, Christian Riedel, Jens Sauerbier, Thomas Schuwje, Matthias Stroh

 

Finland

Finland have yet to win a medal at the European Championships with their best overall finish being sixth place.

They have the tough task of silencing the home crowd when they clash with Belgium in their opening game.

 

Championship medals: None

Paralympic medals: None

Head Coach: Valtteri Lehtinen

Squad: Jukka Parviainen, Mauri Vironmaki, Leevi Ylonen, Tuukka Nisso, Antti Sinisari, Toni Lehtinen, Risto Mort, Tuomas Tella, Anna Pasanen

 

Austria

Austria like Finland will be chasing their first medal at a European Championships, in 2011 they finished ninth overall.

Austria will be the host nation Belgium first opponents following the Opening Ceremony on Monday night (12 August).

 

Championship medals: None

Paralympic medals: None

Squad: Isudin Ramic, Alois Weib, Jochen Haller, Peter Scholffer, Andreas Jurik, Martin Hofer, Bruno Bosnjak, Markus Wallner.

 

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic will be at a minimum aiming to finish inside the top 10 for the first time at the European Championships to ensure automatic qualification for the 2015 tournament. Metro Cup MVP Jaroslav Filsak will need to be at his best for the first round clash with Germany that awaits them on day two of the tournament.

 

Championship medals: None

Paralympic medals: None

Squad: David Lukes, Jiri Plesko, Petr Oppenauer, Jan Plouzek, Jiri Dvorak, Lubos Kondela, Jaroslav Filsak, Ales Kisy.

 

Pool B

 

Sweden

After beating Great Britain 49-42 to win the 2011 title, the defending champions will be disappointed with anything less than gold.

Sweden kick off their campaign against Denmark who recently leapt above them in the world rankings in June.

 

Championship medals: Gold (1997, 1999, 2011) Silver (1995, 2009) Bronze (2005, 2007)

Paralympic medals: None

Head Coach: Gustav Forare

Squad: Mikael Wahlberg, Rickard Lofgren, Glenn Adaszak, Stefan Jansson, Alfredo Alvarez, Roger Lindberg, Tomas Hjert, Mikael Norlin, Andreas Collin, Tobias Sandberg, Mikael Widlund

 

France

France were narrowly defeated 52-51 by Belgium in the 2011 tournament and will be hoping to get amongst the medals this time around. The now ninth ranked nation will take on Denmark in what will likely be a goal-for-goal matchup.

 

Championship medals: None

Paralympic medals: None

Head Coach: Olivier Cusin

Squad: Adrien Chalmin, Mathieu Moreau, Pablo Neuman, Nicolas Rioux, Sebastian Lhuissier, Eric Meurisse, Johnathon Hivernat, Steeve Gernigon, Ryadh Sallem, Christophe Corompt, Cedric Nankin, Rodolphe Jarlan

 

Poland

After narrowly missing a berth in the semi finals in 2011, Poland will want to improve on their fifth-place finish. Italy await them in their opening match of the tournament but they cannot take them lightly.

 

Championship medals: None

Paralympic medals: None

Head Coach: Christoph Werner

Squad: Bartosz Zielski, Krzysztof Kosider, Dominik Rymer, Krzysztof Podolski, Slawomir Florkowski, Arkadiusz Henicz, Krzysztof Kapusta, Pawel Szostak, Piotr Wilamowski, Rafal Rocki, Stawomir Gontarz, Tomasz Bidus

 

Denmark

Denmark will be looking for their best finish at a European Championships since placing fourth in 2005. After moving up six spots to No. 6 in the world rankings earlier this year, the team will take plenty of confidence into their opening clash with defending champions Sweden.

 

Championship medals: None

Paralympic medals: None

Head Coach: William Bond

Squad: Thomas Pagh, Kurt Busk, Jesper Kruger, Mike Bergstrom, Thor Johansson, Jon Johansseon, Leon Jorgenssen, Sebastian Frederksen

 

Switzerland

Switzerland are another European nation who are yet to feature in the medals at the Championships, 2011 was a very disappointing tournament by the standards as they finished 10th overall. Poland await the Swiss team in their opening match, a must win if they want to eclipse their best finish of fourth way back in 1999.

 

Championship medals: None

Paralympic medals: None

Head Coach: Benoit Labrecque

Squad: Toni Schillig, Luzi Diener, Jeremy Jenal, Dave Mzee, Christian Haehnel, Andi Braendli, Adrian Moser, Peter Roos, Eddy Ramirez

 

Italy

This will be the first year Italy have competed in the European Championships, which is a huge effort in itself. They will be hoping to register their first win in a major tournament and will get their chance to do so when they take on Poland in their opening game.

 

Championship medals: None

Paralympic medals: None

Head Coach: Schwarz Rene

Squad: Alen Corbatti, Stefano Fusilli, Davide Giozet, Massimo Giradello, Massimo Guatelli, Ahmed Raourahi, Paolo Sacerdoti, Guiseppe Testa, Nicolo Toscano

 

Games will be webcast live at www.iwrf.com and www.ecwcrugby2013.be