Originally published on Rio2016.com.
Wheelchair rugby is the next sport to start qualification for Rio 2016, with the winner of the world championship that starts on Monday (4 August) guaranteed a place at the first Paralympic Games in South America. Twelve teams will compete at the sixth edition of the IWRF World Championship, which will be held in Odense, Denmark.
The USA, which has won four of the five previous world championships and claimed Paralympic gold at the Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008 Games, again arrives as one of the favourites. The North Americans are in Group B with Japan, Sweden, Germany, France and New Zealand.
USA captain, Joe Delagrave, has high hopes of winning gold and booking his place in Rio. “We expect to fight for the gold medal. We have a great team and want to maintain last season’s high performance level. We want to guarantee a place at Rio 2016 as soon as possible so that we can work to develop the team without having to worry about qualifying at the Parapan American Games in 2015.”
However, Delagrave knows that his team will have to fight every inch of the way to be successful in Denmark, such is the quality of the opposition. “Australia is the current Paralympic champion, with Ryley Batt and Chris Bond, two of the best players in the world,” he said.
“The experienced Canada team is always a strong candidate, and will have rising star Zak Madell. Japan and Great Britain are teams that combine both young and experienced players, and are sure to be strong competitors for the place at Rio.”