Australia crowned world champions for first time

Australia beat Canada to win gold in a dramatic final at the IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championships, with USA claiming the bronze medal. 11 Aug 2014
Men in wheelchairs with a big championships trophy

Australia with the trophy - 2014 IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championships

ⒸBrian Mouridsen
By Beau Greenway | for the IPC

Australia has finally won the major title that has eluded them in the sport of wheelchair rugby following a fantastic 67-56 win over Canada in the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) World Championship final in Odense, Denmark on Sunday (10 August).

It was very tight early on, as Canada got off the a great start leading 5-3 in the opening stages of the first quarter, but having already used three of their time-outs.

The scores were level at 15-15 at the end of the first quarter, setting up the remaining three quarters as an absolute thriller.

Initially looking nervous, Paralympic champions Australia started to grow in confidence during the second quarter, which saw them push out to a 32-27 lead at the half-way stage.

Canada had burned through all their time-outs in the first half which allowed Australia to capitalise on every mistake and extend the margin to eight goals in the third.

The Steelers held their nerve in the final quarter and increased the deficit by three to cap off a fantastic tournament with the ultimate glory.

Ryley Batt played every minute of the gold medal match and can add another major trophy to his huge list of achievements in the sport – something that he is delighted about.

He said: “That’s the last title ticked off the list, we have a Paralympic gold, Oceanic gold and now World Championship gold and we are so proud of that.

“We knew they would come out strong, Canada can step up for any game and we saw that yesterday against the Americans when they played the best game I had ever seen them play.

“After the first quarter we were even but we knew deep down that we were fitter than them which definitely paid off in the end.

“The Australian Paralympic Committee, all the staff, the strength and conditioning, the coaches, and player just stepped up this whole tournament and we got the gold medal we were after.

Zak Madell played a brilliant game once again for Canada but it wasn’t enough to stop the relentless Australian effort.

His performances throughout this campaign have been nothing short of excellent, winning him the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Despite not taking the gold medal too, he stated that his team can still be proud of their efforts.

“They went out and pushed the whole game, made some strong defensive plays using their speed and agility and they managed to come out on top,” said Madell.

“Over the course of the game they slowly started pulling away and towards the end they just extended that gap.

“We are definitely happy, we have moved up in the international rankings from third to second now, nobody really likes to lose but we are happy with where we are.

Earlier in the day the USA bounced back from their difficult semifinal loss to secure the bronze medal over Japan 62-56.

USA captain Andy Cohn admitted the team was still a work in progress but were glad they could at least come away with a medal.

“We have got a lot to learn, there were a lot of really good teams here and we have a lot we can take away from this,” he said.

“I was really proud of the guys showing a lot of heart and a lot of effort in coming back and getting a medal out of this.”

In a World Championship first, after an online vote, Great Britain’s Ajaz Bhuta won the fans MVP award for the most popular player of the week.