(Toronto, August 14) – In a game that couldn’t have been scripted better by Hollywood, Canada’s wheelchair rugby team came from behind to win gold tonight at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games. The team has now qualified for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
“This feeling is incredible,” said Zak Madell. “This is worth everything. Winning gold right here on home soil means more than all of the Paralympics and World Championships combined. We couldn’t have done it without the fans or without the amazing volunteers.”
When the two teams met in the round robin, Canada lost in double overtime. The fans in the sold-out stadium, however, were determined to propel their team to a victory.
Unfortunately, Canada opened on a flat note and was quickly down 4-1. Though they soon settled into their rhythm, they were unable to force turnovers from the dominant American team and remained down 30-26 at halftime. In the third quarter, however, the energy from the crowd and a few quick turnovers helped Canada rally. By the third quarter, the score was tied. In the fourth quarter, Canada’s confidence was high. They finished the game up 57-54.
This is Canada’s first major gold medal since 2002 when Canada beat the USA at the 2002 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships. That victory was captured in the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Murderball.” With the cameras rolling again, Team Canada played big when it counted.
“Today, we learned how it feels to win gold,” said Kevin Orr. “That’s a feeling that we’re going to carry with us to Rio.”