Rio De Janerio, BRAZIL – The Wheelchair Rugby competition began Wednesday at the 2016 Paralympic Games with the United States facing France. The U.S. came out victorious in the opener, 51-42.
Chuck Aoki (Minneapolis, MN) scored the opening goal of the game and the U.S. held the French scoreless for the first 1.48 of the match jumping to a quick 4-0 lead. As the first period came to a close, the U.S. was up by five, 14-9. In the second, the U.S. continued a very strong defensive effort, forcing a total of eight turnovers in the half. At the end of the first two periods of play, the Americans were ahead 26-17.
A re-energized French squad came out in the third but as play continued the U.S. maintained a considerable lead, up by seven, finishing the third 38-31. The final period of play was another balanced effort for the U.S. who held the lead wire to wire in the game finishing on top, 51-42. Top scorers for the U.S. were Aoki with 16 and Josh Brewer (Battle Ground, WA) with 9.
Of the twelve men on the U.S. squad only five have previous Paralympic experience – Jason Reiger (Centennial, CO) and Seth McBride (Portland, OR) are in their third Games; Chuck Aoki, Adam Scaturro, (Lakewood, CO) and Chad Cohn (Tucson, AZ) are returning from their London bronze medal finish. Coach Gumbert feels that the new players, all of whom saw playing time in the opener, handed in solid performances. “For an opening game with just the enormity of the Paralympics, to be on a stage where so many people are going to see you play is sometimes the biggest thing to overcome,” said Coach James Gumbert. “Several of our players have never seen anything like this and I think they all answered, they all responded and said ‘ we got this’, to face an opponent and to face the unknown of being at the Paralympics, I was very pleased with today.”
Pool play continues on Thursday where the U.S. will face Sweden, and finishes on September 16th with the U.S. vs. Japan. Semi finals on the 17th lead to the medal matches on Sunday the 18th, the last day of competition at these Games.
Team USA is now 24-2 in Paralympic Competition having been on the podium in every Games since the introduction of the sport at Sydney 2000 with two golds (Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008) and two bronze (Athens 2004 and London 2012). The United States regained their title as the number one team in the world at the recent 2016 Canada Cup.
For more information contact Jen Remick at firstname.lastname@example.org.