The 2018 Wheelchair Rugby World Championship came to a close on 10 August in Sydney, Australia. Let us look back at the major takeaways from the competition:
1. No-one is unbeatable
Australia’s upset loss to Japan in the gold medal match meant no team finished unbeaten at the 2018 World Championship. Japan fell to Australia in their final pool game, before toppling the then-undefeated USA in the semi-final and becoming world champions for the first time by holding out the reigning Paralympic and world champions in the final.
2. Japan force to be reckoned with
Japan’s maiden World Championship victory sets them up perfectly for a tilt at their first Paralympic gold in the sport at Tokyo 2020. They proved they belong on the podium following medal-winning performances at their last two major events.
3. USA will be fired up for Tokyo 2020
The most successful team in wheelchair rugby history have found themselves in unfamiliar territory the last six years. The USA bowed out in the semi-finals at the 2014 and 2018 Worlds and missed Paralympic gold at London 2012 and Rio 2016. Expect them to respond in two years’ time as they chase their first Paralympic title since Beijing 2008.
4. Canada’s time to rebuild
Canada finished sixth, their worst finish at the event, one spot below their fifth-place effort on home soil in 2010. They can count themselves lucky that Colombia beat Poland in the pool phase to allow them to finish fourth and eventually work their way into the fifth-place playoff.
5. Great Britain edge closer to elusive podium finish
They have had their fair share of heartbreak in recent years and Sydney 2018 was no exception for Great Britain. After taking Australia all the way in the semi-finals, they came up short against the USA in the bronze medal match. Great Britain’s fourth-place finish in Sydney equalled their best performance at the Worlds in both 1995 and 2006.
6. Gaps closing
While the likes of Japan, Australia, USA and Great Britain stamped themselves as the top-four, the chasing pack are not too far behind. France produced their best finish by placing fifth, while Poland and Colombia also impressed with two victories apiece, playing above their ranking to end up ninth and 10th, respectively. Colombia could prove to be a real threat to Canada’s chances of qualifying for Tokyo 2020 through the Americas Zone Championship.