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Paralympics: What are the rules of wheelchair rugby?
Tokyo Paralympics: Here’s what happened when a kids’ wheelchair rugby team took on a Paralympian
Paralympics 2021: Who is Team USA wheelchair rugby star who carried flag?
Wheelchair rugby is set to take centre stage at the Tokyo Paralympics as one of the most unique sports on offer.
The Yoyogi National Stadium will host the games with eight nations split into two groups, with games running from 25-29 August,
Defending champions Australia, who beat the United States at Rio 2016 to win gold, are joined by Japan, Denmark and France in Group A.
While Team USA will hope to upgrade their silver medal and start in Group B alongside New Zealand, Great Britain and Canada.
The top two from each group will advance to the semi-finals, with the two winners advancing to the gold medal match and the losers facing off to win bronze.
Originally known as ‘murderball’, the sport is played in an aggressive and committed fashion, making it one of the most entertaining sports at Tokyo 2020.
Players display speed with full chair contact and hard hits common, while skill is married with physical determination in pursuit of victory.
A basketball court or sports hall can be used to play the sport with two ‘key areas’ are added. Two cones at each end of the court signal the try line at the back of the key area, with a try awarded when a player has firm control of the ball and carries it over the opposition’s line with both wheels crossing.
Games last 32 minutes, with eight-minute quarters, with a two-minute break at the end of the first and third quarters, plus a five-minute break at half-time. Though do expect a full game to last almost two hours when you include in-game stoppages, breaks and timeouts.
On our kids’ team are Annie, 12, Jackson, 11, Lochlan, 13 and Callum, 12, who all play for Northampton Saints Junior Team, the Under 14s Lord’s Taverners national cup winners 2019.
Facing them is three-times Paralympic star Mandip Sehmi, alongside upcoming wheelchair rugby superstar Kascie Higgins, 20, who plays for the Northampton Saints Senior team and is a GBWR Talent Pathway Athlete.
From bumping fists to bashing chairs, the game was ‘hugely enjoyable’ and ‘electrifying’ for everyone, as it marked the beginning of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and showcased just one of the amazing sports that the Paralympic Team will be competing in over the next two weeks.
Catching up with our players after the match, both adults admitted the youngsters put them through their paces. ‘The Juniors played really well, they’ve been learning tactics from a young age,’ says Kascie.
Meanwhile, Mandip adds, ‘They all have potential to be stars of their future, I couldn’t pick just one.’
Talking about how he got into the game, the three-time European gold medal winner recalls how when he was first told about wheelchair rugby he thought someone was pulling his leg.
‘I wasn’t born with a disability,’ Mandip explains. ‘At 19 I broke my neck in a car crash and was taken to Stoke Mandeville rehabilitation hospital. That’s when a nurse told me about wheelchair rugby.
I honestly thought she was joking – I thought how do you play rugby in a wheelchair on grass? I really had no idea of the sport at all. But then I watched a match and saw everyone crashing into each other and moving around so quickly, and it was unreal to see.’
Mandip, who competed at the Beijing, London and Rio Paralympics, remembers that when he played his first game, ‘I even forgot I was in a wheelchair for that moment.
Being a Paralympian’s team mate was a huge honour, says Kascie Higgins, who has cerebral palsy. He’s been playing wheelchair rugby for five years and has his sights set on Paralympic glory.
His Japanese great-grandparents and grandparents were imprisoned in an American World War II internment camp and now he has carried the flag for Team USA at the Paralympic Games opening ceremony in Tokyo.
Chuck Aoki, who captains the wheelchair rugby team, was born in Minneapolis with hereditary sensory autonomic neuropathy, a rare genetic disorder that means he has no feeling in his hands or feet.
AIKEN, SC (WFXG) - A woman from Aiken is set to represent Team USA in wheelchair fencing at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo this week. Ellen Geddes, who is currently ranked No. 1 in both Foil and Epee, is competing in two individual events as well as two team events.
"It has been a lot of hard work," Ellen says. "Fencing was a hard sport to take up right after I had been injured and I was still learning my body and the chair." Ellen was injured a decade ago after a crash left her with a spinal cord injury at T10. She spent some time at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta for rehab when one day she saw the Shepherd wheelchair fencing team practicing. “Their captain Dennis Asby asked me if I thought it would be fun to stab people and I said yes,” she says.
That was in 2011. She started competing in 2012, went to her first World Championship in 2013 and now she’s about to compete in the Tokyo Paralympics. “The level of pride we have for her, it can’t be described," says Ellen's dad, Jim. “It’s a good example of never looking back, never giving up and just looking forward.” sdsdsd