Teams Assembling in London for Wheelchair Rugby Test Event
On April 18 and 19th, four of the world’s top Wheelchair Rugby teams will go head to head at the Olympic Park in London, England. The London International Invitational Wheelchair Rugby Tournament, part of the London Prepares series of Olympic and Paralympic test events, will take place in the Basketball Arena. Designed as a training opportunity for the staff and technical officials who will work wheelchair rugby during the 2012 Paralympic Games, all will be formally introduced to the fast paced and hard-hitting action of the sport.
But for the four participating countries, this is one of only two competitions left to size up some of their opponents before the big show begins in September. World ranked #2 Australia will travel the farthest, followed by #5 Canada. Number 4 ranked Sweden is just a short flight away, while host country Great Britain, #6 in the world, will feel right at home and have the home court advantage.
Each of the four teams attending have outstanding athletes, but Australia’s Ryley Batt may be the sports best known and most dominant player. Making his Paralympic debut at the age of 15 in Athens in 2004, Batt has since led his team to Silver medals at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, as well as the IWRF’s 2010 World Championship in Vancouver, Canada. Most recently, the team won Gold at the IWRF 2011 Asia-Oceania Championship in Korea.
Not to be overlooked, Team Canada has only finished off of the podium once at the Paralympics, and always comes prepared to play. Despite a disappointing 5th place finish at 2010 Worlds, the Canadians have not lost their confidence or skill, and should be a strong contender in London.
Sweden is making its return to the Paralympic stage for the first time since Sydney in 2000, and is looking to make a statement. Loaded with speed and athletes that like the big hits, they are hoping to capture their first ever Paralympic medal in wheelchair rugby.
Host country Great Britain has finished 4th at the last two Paralympic Games, and is eager to be on the podium for the first time. The squad has been totally retooled over the last few years, and their coach has applied a decisive strategy to best position the team for a chance to medal.
Of course, the final results of the London International Invitational Wheelchair Rugby Tournament won’t have any bearing on what happens in the Basketball Arena in September, but that doesn’t mean the teams won’t try to make a strong statement. With four of the top six teams in the world competing, those lucky enough to have tickets for the event should be in for a real treat.
For those of us not so fortunate, the C4 Paralympics website is scheduled to webcast six of the 8 games, though it’s not clear if the broadcast will be available outside of the UK. More information on the webcast will be posted here as soon as it’s known, but until then you can visit the C4 Paralympic website by clicking HERE.
Wheelchair rugby is often considered one of the fastest and most exciting of the 21 Paralympic's summer sports, and provides its fans with non-stop thrills as a full-contact game. For more information please visit www.iwrf.com
London International Invitational Wheelchair Rugby Tournament Schedule
WEDNESDAY 18TH APRIL
10am - Sweden v Great Britain
12pm - Australia v Canada
*4pm - Sweden v Australia
*6pm - Canada v Great Britain
THURSDAY 19th APRIL
*10am - Australia v Great Britain
*12pm - Sweden v Canada
*4pm - 3rd v 4th play-off game
*6pm - Final
* to be streamed live at channel4.com/paralympics