London 2012 Paralympics: GB ‘Murderball’ team eyes first-ever medal
RUGBY enters the London Paralympics today when the sport nicknamed “Murderball” screeches into action with Team GB eyeing a first-ever medal.
Wheelchair rugby is a fast-growing sport among disabled athletes across the UK as it caters for a wide range of disabilities and men and women play in the same team. It uses a round ball rather than rugby’s traditional oval one and is played on a basketball-type indoor court.
It started in Canada in the 1970s and came to the UK in the early 1980s. There are now ten clubs across Great Britain with Glasgow this year launching a Scottish base for the game.
The sport first appeared at the World Wheelchair Games in 1990 as an exhibition event and made its Paralympic Games debut in Atlanta in 1996. Team GB is now among the best in the world, having won the European Championships on three consecutive occasions and finished fourth at both the Athens and Beijing Paralympics. They secured extra funding from UK Sport in 2009 to support 11 players with professional training, including Glaswegian Mike Kerr, and they open today against the USA (2pm) in their bid to go one better and strike a medal.
GB Wheelchair Racing Chief Executive David Pond said: “I don’t think anyone could have imagined the atmosphere that is around these games. From the very opening it has been just incredible.
“I was in the stadium watching the athletics and there was such a buzz around the place right up until the end and that amazing win by David Weir in the 5,000m. With all of this going on it is hard to keep the reins on our athletes. They are just raring to go. I can honestly say that I have never seen them more ready.
“There is a great atmosphere in the camp and a determination to go out there and do the business so watch out for us we are straining at the leash to go. Everyone is talking about rugby and can’t wait for the competition to start. I spoke with London Mayor Boris Johnson this week who is coming to the opening game and you will see him wearing his GBWR pin badge which I placed on his lapel on day one!
“Sir Clive Woodward will join us on Thursday for the French game (7pm) and then, on Friday, we have about 50 guests including members of the International Rugby Board, the Rugby World Cup organisers, RFU and supporters joining us for the game with Japan (3pm).”
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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