USA aiming for fifth wheelchair rugby world title

After only winning bronze at London 2012, Team USA are more determined than ever to hold onto their world crown 01 Aug 2014
Players in wheelchairs lining up and high five

Settling for bronze at London 2012, USA's wheelchair rugby team is now looking to win the World Championships in Denmark

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By Beau Greenway | for the IPC

“All of us have been intensely training, so we hope that hard work will translate to a positive performance on the court.”

The USA wheelchair rugby team is on the brink of one of the most impressive achievements in sport as they aim to win their fifth International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) World Championship in Odense, Denmark from 4-10 August.

USA Co-Captain Andy Cohn is a veteran of the squad and will be competing in his fourth World Championship event when the team arrives in Denmark on 2 August.

After only winning bronze at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the defending world champions are determined to succeed in Denmark.

“All of the players share the desire to play to the best of our abilities no matter the tournament, Cohn said.

“It is an honour to represent Team USA and we train with the goal of winning every tournament we go to no matter where and when it is.”

The USA squad were unable to make the trip to the recent Canada Cup but have still been well committed off the court to make sure they are peaking from day one of the tournament.

“Steve Pate - a retired Paralympic gold medal and World Championship winning Team USA athlete - has taken over as head of our strength and conditioning and has elevated our fitness and dedication to training,” Cohn said.

“All of us have been intensely training, so we hope that hard work will translate to a positive performance on the court.”

Team USA were very dominant four years ago at the World Championships in Canada but know there will be plenty of teams as hungry as they are for the 2014 title.

“Australia really is playing great but the sport has spread and globalised so much that there are multiple teams with great players that present a challenge,” said Cohn said of the London 2012 champions.

While there have been significant changes to the side that won in 2010, the feeling around the camp remains very positive.

“This group of players is unique in so many ways in comparison to past teams. While the talent level is still high the feeling of family and level of team chemistry is the highest I've ever seen, Cohn said.

“We are a young team minus an old guy or two like me and we are still working to reach our potential. We are a work in progress and know that the World Champs offers us an opportunity to get better so we are anticipating it.”

Team USA has built their confidence around more than the just the playing group itself.

“My teammates and our staff make my confidence level high. This group wants to be great, we aren't there yet but we support each other in that pursuit,” Cohn said.

“Many could look at the expectation of winning every game and every tournament you play in as a burden but we welcome the challenge and happily shoulder the responsibility of continuing the legacy of excellence USA wheelchair rugby has created.”

Cohn also credited the future of the game in the USA being extremely healthy thanks to its partnership with USA rugby; the world title would be the icing on the cake.

“The inclusion of rugby in the Olympics has created a unique and mutually beneficial relationship with our wheelchair rugby team and the able-bodied version,” said Cohn.

“The USA Eagles have been awesome and generous including us in the effort to continue the growth of all kinds of rugby in our country and recognising that rugby is rugby no matter the age, ability or function of the players.

“We look forward to continuing and growing this partnership to the benefit and success of all American rugby players.”

USA begins its quest for that record breaking title when they take on debutants France on 5 August and are drawn in Pool B alongside Germany, Japan, New Zealand and Sweden.

Pool A features Paralympic champions Australia, Belgium, London 2012 silver medallists Canada, hosts Denmark, Finland and Great Britain.

For more information on the 2014 IWRF World Championships, please visit the competition website.

The matches will be streamed live, a player is available via the IPC website.