USA back to No. 1 in wheelchair rugby

The USA defeated Paralympic champions Australia to take first place at the Denmark Wheelchair Rugby Challenge. 10 Jun 2013
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

“One of the things I have learned throughout my career on the national team is the expectation is always to win.”

USA have regained the No. 1 ranking in the world after winning the gold medal at the Denmark Wheelchair Rugby Challenge in Odense on Sunday (9 June).

Team USA completed their undefeated run through the tournament with hard-fought 61-56 win over London 2012 Paralympic champions Australia.

Their previous meeting in the pool stage of the competition resulted in a 57-48 American victory, but the final was much tighter with the two nations locked at 30-30 at halftime.

In the final minutes of the third period, Australia committed three consecutive turnovers and USA took full advantage and a crucial four goal lead into the final quarter.

Despite Australia’s best efforts they were unable to erase the deficit and a USA five goal victory was the final result.

Team USA co-captain, Joe Delagrave, praised the efforts of his team and said they were very excited to become the number one nation in wheelchair rugby once more.

“We all believed in each other from the start,” Delagrave told

“One of the things I have learned throughout my career on the national team is the expectation is always to win.”

USA’s 2013 squad has lost a lot of experience from London last year but Delagrave believes they are hungrier than ever for victories.

Unity within the team proved to be vital for USA’s ultimate success at the tournament.

“The best aspect of our game was our faith in each other. We have the trust to believe in each other to overcome any adversity within the game,” he said.

“We achieved our goal of getting out number one seed back, however, we know we have a lot of work to do to get gold in the world championships.

“Our new guys need to build from this victory and get our team stronger in all aspects.”

The bronze medal went the way of Canada after they defeated Great Britain, 55-40.

The Canadians were constantly forcing turnovers and their overall pressure eventually proved too much for the Brits who had to settle for fourth place.

In other results, Japan edged out hosts Denmark 52-49 in the battle for fifth place, while Sweden narrowly defeated Belgium 49-48 in the seventh-place game.

Canadian youngster Zak Madell continued his stellar run in the sport by winning the most valuable player of the tournament award.

The best player of each classification was also selected in the team of the tournament, and were as follows:

Best 0.5: Jonny Coggan (Great Britain)

Best 1.0: Chad Cohn (USA)

Best 1.5: Peter Genyn (Belgium)

Best 2.0: Derrick Helton (USA)

Best 2.5: Ayaz Bhuta (Great Britain)

Best 3.0: Chuck Aoki (USA)

Best 3.5: Zak Madell (Canada)