Organisers and host team gear-up for wheelchair rugby worlds

First chance for teams to qualify for Rio 2016 is highlighted by hosts Denmark’s optimism after moving up the world rankings. 29 Jul 2014
Two wheelchair rugby players fight for the ball on the field of play

Leon Jorgensen will play at the 2014 IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championships in Odense, Denmark

ⒸLars Moller

“We have and will continue to do everything in our power to provide the optimal conditions for these teams and players to bring their very best game forward."

The sixth IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championships begin in just under one week's time in Odense, Denmark, from 4 August.

Forty-two enticing matchups in Sparekassen Fyn Arena will determine the next champions of the world and the first team to qualify for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

With the official Opening Ceremony and game between Denmark and Belgium just six days away, it is crunch time for players, coaches and organisers ahead of what promises to be the most unpredictable and highly contested World Championships to date.

Mette Holstein Arnesen, Chairperson of the Local Organising Committee is very excited to enter the last leg of preparations and looks forward to welcoming teams and fans alike to the “big dance” in Odense, Denmark.

“There certainly is a lot to look forward to for everyone involved. The fans can expect an action-packed, intense showing from some of the toughest and most committed athletes in the world,” Holstein Arnesen said.

“We have and will continue to do everything in our power to provide the optimal conditions for these teams and players to bring their very best game forward and produce a thrilling tournament for the live audience as well as viewers at home.”

Denmark looking to surprise

Several teams including reigning champions USA, Paralympic champions Australia and former world champions Canada have already declared themselves title challengers, and they can expect stiff competition from the likes of Japan, Great Britain and European champions Sweden.

Even hosts Denmark, who in the past year have moved up from 12 to sixth on the IWRF World Rankings, might surprise a few people, according to player/coach Thor Johansson.

“We have improved a lot over the past couple of years, and today our setup is more professional and focused than it has ever been before,” Johnasson said, buoyed by his teams’ recent success.

“While USA and Australia might be in a league of their own right now, other teams are catching up, and I count us among those who are really starting to close the gap. With the help of the Danish audience, I think we will be stronger than ever in Odense. It will definitely be the greatest sporting experience so far for the guys on the team, and we really want to do well and finish in the top five.”

Denmark face-off against Belgium at 4.30pm local time on Monday 4 August in the opening match of the 2014 IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championships.

That game is immediately followed by a matchup between New Zealand and France, while Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Sweden and USA have to wait until Tuesday to jump into the action.

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