Paralympic Games
7-18 September

US women seek return to gold standard

After leaving medal-less in London, the US women’s wheelchair basketball team are motivated reach the podium, again. 22 Jun 2016
Wheelchair basketball players during a game

USA's Rebecca Murray at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

ⒸLieven Coudenys
By Laurie Lawira | For the IPC

A disappointing end to the London 2012 Paralympic Games has the US women’s wheelchair basketball team more determined to make amends when they compete in Rio 2016 this September.

They were defending the highs of a gold medal they won in Beijing 2008, but a narrow 40-39 loss to Australia in the semi-finals in London, then a heavy 24-point defeat in the bronze medal playoff to the Netherlands had them returning home without a podium finish.

“Yeah it was hard, it was a little disappointing because you want to come home with a gold medal but I think it gave us a lot of determination... to [return to] the gold medal standard we’ve had in the past,” said two-time US Paralympian Rebecca Murray.

Murray, 26, was at Team USA’s Colorado Springs training camp in May, and as the Rio Games draws near, the 2008 gold medallist believes her team is on track to once again challenge for the top prize.

“I feel after this training camp we did get closer and that intensity was really high at this training camp, so it was a good one,” Murray said. “Each day we tried to get better and hope we have a standard that’s setting the bar to gold-medal standard so we try to get close and closer to where we want to be.

“The line-ups we have been learning have been getting better … [and] the next couple of months [will be] fine tuning those little things that we still need to do.”

Team USA’s gold medal triumph at the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto – where they beat host Canada 80-72 in the final – was a good indication that they are hitting their preparation goals. The biggest factor that Murray feels has helped is the largely unchanged line-up and crop of younger players who are more settled into their roles.

“With 2012 we were a newer team together and now it’s basically been the same team minus a couple of players that have dropped out and a couple that have joined the team,” Murray said. “But I think time together being able to play together has been able to rebuild that team chemistry and trust that we need to play with each other on the floor.”

The veteran also competed in two World Championships (2010, 2014) and is one on the 12-player roster named for Rio who will contribute her experiences to. The roster also consists of four athletes who will play the sport at the Games for the first time.

“I think it’s pretty much an advantage I would say. To have that youth, to bring that energy that we have,” Murray said.

Murray, a prolific point scorer who netted 72 points at an average of 21 per game at the Toronto tournament, has recently upped her own shooting training as the team focuses on the finer details of their preparation, which could be the critical difference on game day.

“We’re just starting to work on the little things that we need to do so they don’t become bigger things at the Paralympics and building those … so I think we’re in a really good position right now where we want to be to make sure we’re peaking when the Paralympics hit,” she said.

So while London 2012 may provide the motivation to do better in Rio, Team USA have their eyes firmly looking forward at what they have the potential to achieve.

“You have to move on and remember that the next play is the one that counts.”

In Rio 2016, the USA were drawn in Group B, alongside the Netherlands, France, China and Algeria.


Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)

The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.

Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.