Wheelchair Sports Federation | Adaptive Sports Organization
US Men’s Goalball Team Defeats “Group of Death” China Team Print E-mail
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by Mariya Abedi  September 9, 2016

RIO DE JANIERO – Team USA’s Joseph Hamilton and John Kusku just kept the throws coming at the Futura Arena in Rio, leading the team to victory against China in their first game of the 2016 Paralympics.

The California-native scored in the first two minutes of the game, tying the score 1-1. But the game didn’t stay tied for very long: Hamilton and Kusku both scored minutes later, with Hamilton scoring on penalty shot, bringing the game to 3-1.

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Team USA’s Joseph Hamilton blocks a ball in the USA vs China game. Photo by Michael A. Clubine. 

 

China made two substitutions in the second half, but that didn’t affect Team USA. Hamilton and Kusku continued to bring their A-game to the arena and scored twice more, giving the team a 5-2 win. Four-time Paralympian Tyler Merren was the third team member on the court; the trio played the entire game without any substitutions.

“To come out here and play flawless three-on-three defense, which is a priority for our defense in this tournament, just really feels great,” Hamilton said of the team’s performance.

Team USA had 77 blocks and threw 91 balls, with Merren throwing 35 and Hamilton throwing 28. Kusku threw the other 25.

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Team USA’s John Kusku plays in the 2016 Paralympic preliminary game against China. Photo by Michael A. Clubine.

 

“We had the perfect amount of energy. We didn’t let ourselves get too up or too down and that’s exactly what you need to do in this sport,” Hamilton added.

The 38-year-old is no newcomer to the game. He was part of the team for the Sydney Paralympics in 2000 and came in 11th place. Hamilton began playing goalball when he was 10 years old. He had partial sight in his left eye at the time but was left completely blind after a snowboarding accident just two years later.

Team USA will be facing Lithuania next, another member of the unofficial “group of death,” which also consists of Finland, Turkey, Japan and the U.S. All the countries in the group are considered medal contenders.

But Finland will have its eyes set on beating Brazil. The two have become competitive rivals in the sport after Finland defeated Brazil in the 2012 London Paralympic Games. Brazil reclaimed its glory after beating Finland 9-1 in the 2014 IBSA Goalball World Championships.

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A referee checks to make sure Tyler Merren’s blindfold is on properly. Photo by Michael A. Clubine.

 

Team USA is meanwhile focusing on one game at a time.

“We’re taking the tournament one day at a time and attacking our challenges as they present themselves to us,” Coach Matthew Boyle said about the team’s strategy as they make their way closer to the quarterfinals.

“We’re really calm and relaxed and are making sure we don’t look too far ahead or focus on games we’ve already played,” he added.

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Team USA’s John Kuska on the court in Rio de Janiero. Photo by Michael A. Clubine.

And in women’s goalball, the U.S. team didn’t get a chance to redeem themselves after a disappointing loss to Brazil (7-3) on Thursday, the first day of preliminary games. Algeria forfeited the game after being a no-show, allowing the U.S. team to automatically win.

They have two more preliminary games against Japan and Israel before the quarterfinals. The U.S. team wasn’t able to make it that far at the 2012 London Paralympic Games, and they’ll have to finish in the top four of their group to advance this time around.

Final Scores:

Mens: USA vs. China (5-2)

Womens: USA vs. Algeria (WIN)

Next:

The U.S. Men’s Team will play Lithuania on Saturday, September 10th at 12:15 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

The U.S. Women’s Team will be playing Japan on Sunday, September 11th at 9:15 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Goalball background:

It’s been half a century since goalball was introduced at the 1976 Toronto Paralympics. The sport was originally designed to help veterans with visual impairment. Players are blindfolded and use a ball with bells in it. Teams of three play two 12-minutes halves.

 
USA Wheelchair Basketball Teams Start Off Strong Print E-mail
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by Mariya Abedi  September 9, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO – Team USA wheelchair basketball teams were on fire on the first day of competition, defeating their rivals in both the men’s and women’s division.

The women’s team set not one, but two new U.S. records in their game against France. They scored 93 points, breaking the last record of 75 for the most points scored in a single game at the Paralympics since 2008. They also won by the largest margin of victory with a 56 point lead for any game won by a U.S. Paralympic team. The record was previously 50 points, which was set in 2004 against Great Britain.

The game was off to great start in the first quarter with Becca Murray and Rose Hollermann scoring 20 points. By half-time, the U.S. was leading by double at 43-21. And France just couldn’t catch up. The team’s defense rallied until the end of the game, only allowing France to score six points in the last quarter.

The men’s team also dominated the court against host country Brazil, playing them for the fourth time in Paralympic history.

 

 

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Team USA’s Brian Bell blocks a shot during the game against Brazil. Photo by Michael A. Clubine.

 

The players got off to a strong start, widening their lead against Brazil to 39-16 by half-time. Brian Bell scored 15 points alone in the first half, some of those free throws.

The Brazilian fans tried to distract Bell and knock him off his game, but that only energized him.

“I was feeding off of it. It’s amazing playing in the arena with that many fans and that much energy, even though it’s against you,” Bell said of the crowd.

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Brazil fans take the stands to support their team. Photo by Michael A. Clubine.

By half-time, the stands had filled up to a little over 56-percent. Venue officials said roughly 9,000 tickets had been sold, and the stadium holds about 16,000 people. But the fans didn’t seem to notice. They cheered on the home team for every single point they scored, even though Brazil trailed the entire game.

“That atmosphere was unbelievable. We did get off to a good start, but when they made that first shot and the stadium erupted, it was unlike anything I had been a part of,” said co-captain Steve Serio.

And the momentum of the team didn’t die down in the second half. Serio led the team’s defense with 7 assists and 7 rebounds overall. Even though the line-up changed several times, the team continued a strong offense, with Josh Turek scoring 15 points.

Team USA won 75-38 and inch closer to the quarter-finals.

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Team USA’s Aaron Gouge take a shot in the USA vs. Brazil game. Photo by Michael A. Clubine.

 

“Our strength is our closeness as a team. We love playing together and training together. We bring out the best out of each other,” said Serio. “It’s our closeness that’s going to carry us far in this tournament.”

Final Scores:

Womens: USA vs. France (93-37)

Mens: USA vs. Brazil (75-38)

Next:

The U.S. Women’s Team will be playing Algeria on Saturday, September 10th at 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

The U.S. Men’s Team don’t have a chance to rest and will be playing Germany on Friday, September 9th at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

 

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Trevon Jenifer (16) and Matt Scott (9) on the court in Rio de Janiero. Photo by Michael A. Clubine.

 
A Well-Deserved Paralympic Gold Medal Debut: Becca Meyers Breaks World Record Print E-mail
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By Orge Castellano  September 9, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO – It was a cloudy day outside Rio, but the sunshine of the Brazilian people inside the Aquatics stadium shined bright as athletes from the entire globe were cheered on by the energetic crowd. In the stands were 21-year-old Becca Meyers’s parents, who were supporting her as she prepared for the S13 100 butterfly meter.

She was only 17 when she competed for the first time at a high level in the London 2012 Paralympics, but back then, no one knew who she was. She was the newbie, an underdog. Nowadays, she has a target on her back; she’s the one to beat.

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Becca’s parents, Mark and Maria, cheer on their daughter from the stands in her preliminary heat. Sept 8, 2016. Photo by Ken King.

Meyers’s parents got more nervous as the night progressed. Her father, Mark, got out of the stands and waited anxiously in the hallway as his daughter was getting into the water. He returned after the race was finished, more tense than his daughter, but Meyers had been more than ready as she’d been waiting for this moment her entire journey.

Her mother, Maria, said that “every fiber of her wanted this; we’re super proud of her,” and that in her mind, Becca knew she was going to make it. That’s why she had been training extra hard for the past year. Her mother recognized the challenges she had overcome.

“She is the only one in the category who is deaf, being the only one who cannot hear the buzzer when it goes off,” she said.“But for her, it’s not an obstacle; she has to rely on the light. It’s the most frustrating part of the race for her.”

Meyers’s strategy came into play when she came from behind after the turn and overtook her challenging competitor Uzbekistani Odilova Muslima halfway through the second leg down. After she took the lead, she achieved the impossible: a gold medal, the title of Paralympic Champion and a new world record in her S13 100 butterfly meter leg with a time of 1:03.25. The crowd celebrated wildly as she entered the victory ceremony, and her mother teared up as the American flag was raised.

Calm but thrilled about her win, Meyers said after the race:“It feels so amazing. I am so excited to win the first gold medal for USA Swimming and we are going to kill it for the rest of the week. I can’t wait to see what everyone else does.”

The night was emotional and the Meyers family has little time to recover from tonight’s victory as Becca Meyers faces the upcoming 50m, 100m and 400m freestyle and the 200m individual medley all in the S13 category.  There may be no one at these Paralympics who can defeat this fighter.

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Becca Meyers celebrates her incredible win on the podium last night at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium. Photo by Ken King.

 
Recap Day One: Team USA Wins Two Gold Medals Print E-mail
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Written by Orge Castellano and Mariya Abedi  Photo: Ken King September 9, 2016

First adys are sometimes tough to get through, but in Rio, things have proven to be quite different for Team USA. When it came to their individual sports, the athletes were ready to shine. We witnessed incredible performances and astonishing winnings.

First, Lex Gillete earned Team USA’s first medal in Athletics with an impressive long jump. He summoned 6.44 meters in the T11 classification, but the gold was conquered by Brazil’s own Ricardo Costa.

The U.S. Cycling team finished the first day of competition with four medals. First-time Paralympian Jamie Whitmore was the first American cyclist to win a medal, winning silver in the C1-2-3* 300m individual. Meanwhile, track cyclist Samantha Bosco competed in the C5 category, winning a bronze medal and edging out Polish opponent Anna Harkowska by 0.004 milliseconds. Bosco’s final time was 3:54.697 in the 3000M individual.

Her teammate Megan Fisher also took a bronze home at the C4 3000M individual pursuit and finished just 0.356 milliseconds ahead of New Zealand’s Katherine Horan. But the U.S. Cycling team did not end the day without a gold medal; first-time Paralympian Morelli Shawn dominated the C4 3000M individual pursuit and broke the Paralympic record by finishing in 3:59.407.

In U.S. Swimming, Jessica Long did it again and claimed silver medal in the pool, followed by Becca Meyers who did not disappoint and tasted the podium with an amazing win, a golden medal for the 100M Butterfly. Her parents were in the stands cheering her up, it was an emotional night for the Meyer’s family, but the fight isn’t over yet Becca still has to compete in four different events in the next few days, but for now, she can relax because as of today, she’s officially a Paralympic Champion.   

And in the world of wheelchair basketball, both the men’s and the women’s teams won by wide margins. The U.S. men’s team took on host country Brazil, winning 75-38, and the U.S. women’s team played against France and won 93-37. The women’s team broke two U.S. records: most points scored in a game (previous record was 75 points in 2008) and largest margin of victory (previous record was 50 points in 2004). Both teams continue to advance to the semi-finals.

*As per the International Paralympic Committee, bicycle C1-5 : Athletes who are able to use a standard bicycle compete in the 5 sport classes C1-5. The sport class profiles include amputations, impaired muscle power or range of motion and also impairments affecting coordination, such as ataxia and athetosis. Sport class C1 is allocated to athletes with the most severe activity limitation, while the sport class C5 is allocated to athletes who meet the minimum disability criteria. For example, cyclists with a double below-the-knee amputation who use a prosthesis are likely to compete in the sport class C3, while an athlete with a below knee amputation and a prosthesis on one leg would compete in the sport class C4.

 
Team USA Track Cycling on a Medal Quest Print E-mail
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TeamUSA training yesterday morning at the Velodrome

By Orge Castellano  September 8, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — Team USA cycling had a productive training session at the Velodrome in Rio de Janeiro, ahead of the Opening Ceremony. With the Paralympic Games ready to kick off, the cycling athletes know the stakes are really high and are pushing hard on the track. They know that if they want to get their hands on a gold medal this time,  they’ll have to train harder to be ahead of the game.

Jennifer Schuble 5x Paralympic Medalist and Army Veteran at practice yesterday 7th Sept.
Jennifer Schuble 5x Paralympic Medalist and Army Veteran at practice yesterday Sept. 7th showing incredible artwork on her helmet.Photo by Michael A. Clubine.

In Rio, a total of seven athletes are returning Paralympians who collectively amassed 12 of the 17 U.S. cycling medals picked up at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Among them is Joe Berenyi, who won gold and silver in individual events and a bronze in the team sprint in London. Yet, a lot of things still need to be accomplished. Opponents from the Great Britain team dominated in London with 22 medals and before that in Beijing 2008 with 17. Team USA faces a huge challenge to overcome the Britons in Rio.

The track competition is taking place on the 250-meter oval track in the Velodrome at Barra Olympic Park, from Sept. 8th to the 11th. Eighteen events will be contested on the track. Team USA consists of 6 women and 4 men, some of them competing both in track and road events. Let the medal quest begin.

For full coverage on Cycling track at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games follow the live streaming on 15 HD channels on the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) website Paralympic.org

Joe Berenyi Paralympic Cyclist, 4x World Champion trains 2 days before competition starts.
Joe Berenyi Paralympic Cyclist, 4x World Champion trains two days before competition starts. Photo by Michael A. Clubine.
Christopher Murphy, first time at the games testing the Omega timing system. Photo by Michael A. Clubine.
Samantha Bosco, first time at the games testing the Omega timing system. Photo by Michael A. Clubine.
 
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