Reigning BT Paralympic World Cup champions Great Britain will have a tough job on their hands defending their Wheelchair Basketball title, with Paralympic silver medallists Canada, World bronze medallists France and emerging nation Brazil today confirmed as the men’s teams to compete in Manchester.
Great Britain secured the title last year having beaten Paralympic champions Australia in the group stages and then defeating Italy in the final, but the IWBF World Championships then saw them finish in fifth place behind Canada and France.
The BT Paralympic World Cup, taking place from 23-28 May, will prove a crucial test for the GB team as they look ahead to the European Championships in Israel in September and GB men’s coach Murray Treseder is excited to get the team back together in Manchester:
“We are looking forward to having the opportunity to defend our title from last year. It is vital for our preparation in the run up to the European Championships in Israel this September, as it will be the first time the team has come back together properly to compete since the World Championships in July last year and it will be good to get together,” he said.
Brazil are competing in the competition first the first time and they will take the opportunity to familiarise itself with the training facilities in Manchester, where they will be basing themselves for training ahead of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, before the world’s attention is turned to Rio in 2016.
Councillor Rosa Battle, Assistant Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, said, “Following our announcement last year that the Brazilian Paralympic Team will train in Manchester ahead of London 2012, we have been working hard alongside the team to make the necessary preparations. Manchester’s reputation as a leading global sports city continues to grow and this partnership, along with our other pre-Olympic and Paralympic Games training camps is a further sign of this status. We look forward to welcoming Brazil and the other nations to Manchester for the BT Paralympic World Cup.”
International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) President Maureen Orchard also believes this year’s BT Paralympic World Cup is a great opportunity for all teams ahead of the upcoming qualification tournaments.
Orchard said: “IWBF expects the teams invited to the BT Paralympic World Cup to use this opportunity to prepare for the upcoming qualification tournaments in their zones.
This event allows them to test their progress against the teams they must defeat if they hope to qualify for London and ultimately medal in London 2012.”
Meanwhile, the women’s tournament will see GB looking to avenge their fourth place finish last year, as they compete against Canada, Germany and Japan.
GB women’s coach Garry Peel said, “The BT Paralympic World Cup is always a significant tournament in the GB women’s calendar, this year even more so as we look to build on the progress we made last year moving up the world rankings.
“Playing against international teams such as Germany and Canada, who are second and third in the world respectively, gives us the standard of competition we need to continue to develop and reach the potential as a squad in the run up to London 2012.”
The BT Paralympic World Cup is the largest annual international multi-sport competition in elite disability sport. BT is entering its third year as title sponsor, in a sponsorship which runs up to and includes the 2012 BT Paralympic World Cup.
Manchester has committed for the seventh consecutive year to hosting elite international athletes competing across Wheelchair Basketball, Athletics and Swimming. In addition, Boccia and Sitting Volleyball will be represented for the first time, with international matches staged during the competition.