The Canadian wheelchair rugby team has advanced to the knockout stage of the Rio 2016 Olympics by winning their first two pool games.
Canada (world #4) launched their bid for gold Sept. 14 by defeating host Brazil (world #19) 62-48, then edged Great Britain (world #5) 50-49 in an overtime thriller on Sept. 15.
They take on defending Paralympic champions Australia (world #2) in their final pool game on Sept. 16. Playoffs get underway Sept. 17, with the championship final on Sept. 18.
Canada, the defending Paralympic silver medallists, with Courtenay’s Byron Green in the 12-player lineup, led Brazil from start to finish with Zak Madell and Trevor Hirschfield turning in strong games.
On Sept. 15, Madell and Hirschfield combined to help Canada edge Great Britain with less than a second remaining in overtime. The Edmonton native passed off to Hirschfield, who crossed the line to seal the win with 0.7 seconds remaining on the clock.
Madell, 22, who led the team with a 30-point effort as Canada remained atop Pool A, forced extra time with a huge tackle on Ayaz Bhuta to preserve the tie at the end of regulation.
The Canadian wheelchair rugby team has earned medals in the last three Paralympic Games, but the golden prize has been elusive. This year’s veteran-laden squad is looking to change that, and with the experience on the team, they believe they have the right people around to make it happen.
Canada has a team of 162 athletes competing in 19 sports at the Paralympic Games, Sept. 7 to 18. For more information visit: http://paralympic.ca/team-canada-rio-2016