Madell excited by wheelchair rugby’s Parapans debut
By Beau Greenway | Courtesy IPC
With six months to go until the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games, Canada’s wheelchair rugby ace Zak Madell had said he is excited about the sport making its Games debut in front of a home crowd.
Wheelchair rugby will be one of 15 sports this August in Toronto and Madell’s side head into the competition ranked second in the world after winning silver at last year’s World Championships in Odense, Denmark.
“The Parapan American Games are going to be a big event for us,” he said.
“It is wheelchair rugby's debut in the Pan Am Games, and we obviously want to put on a good show for the home crowd.
“There is also a lot of pressure on this tournament because only the top ranked team is guaranteed a spot at the Rio Paralympics.”
Toronto 2015 will also see Canada face USA for the first time since their thrilling semi-final victory over them in Odense last year, something Madell and the rest of the camp are very excited for.
“I think if we can play at the level that we did in the semi-finals in Denmark then we have a good shot at beating our American rivals again, but I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens,” said the 20-year-old who was also part of the Canada team that beat the US at London 2012.
At last year’s World Championships, which were eventually won by Paralympic champions Australia, Madell was sublime throughout, leading his team’s goal scoring and winning the highly prestigious Most Valuable Player award.
Since the he has been busy settling into his new home in Scarborough, Ontario, as well as balancing his studies and adjusting to a new training group and environment.
Despite Canada not having played in any international tournaments since the World Championships, Madell has still spent plenty of minutes on the court in recent weeks.
“I have been to a club level tournament with my home team Calgary down in Jacksonville, Florida, as well as going to a few tournaments with various Ontario teams,” Madell said.
Madell will show his versatility as an athlete when he competes at the 2015 Canada Games in wheelchair basketball before team Canada’s attention shifts to the Parapan American Games which start on 7 August.
Following the Parapans, Madell’s will start preparations in earnest to improve on the silver medal he won at London 2012.
“After the Toronto Pan Am Games we will shift our focus to Rio, and of course the gold medal that our team is working so hard towards,” Madell said.
“But first we need to compete in Toronto this summer.”
Madell brushed off recent comments from Australia’s Ryley Batt and a host of respected names in the sport saying he is fast becoming the world’s best wheelchair rugby player.
“I'm honoured that people think that people might consider me one of the best in the world, but individual accolades really aren't what we strive for in team sports,” he said.
The Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games will feature more than 1,600 athletes from 28 countries and will take place between 7-15 August.