Wheelchair Basketball Canada announces men’s and women’s squads for Tokyo Games

Three-time Paralympic champion Patrick Anderson will be making his Paralympic return to Canada’s wheelchair basketball team in Tokyo.

The Canadian men’s and women’s teams headed to Tokyo were announced on Friday by the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) and Wheelchair Basketball Canada (WBC).

The 43-year-old, who was born in Edmonton and grew up in Fergus, Ont., is returning to competition after taking some time away from the sport.

Anderson won gold medals in Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and London 2012, also claiming silver in Beijing 2008. He didn’t compete in Rio 2016, when Canada finished 11th out of 12 teams.

Bo Hedges (Fort St. John, B.C.) is another veteran on the men’s team. The 41-year-old will be competing in his fourth Games.

Anderson and Hedges will be joined by Rio 2016 returnees Nik Goncin, Deion Green, Chad Jassman, Tyler Miller and Jonathan Vermette, and Paralympic debutants Vincent Dallaire, Colin Higgins, Lee Melymick, Blaise Mutware and Garrett Ostepchuk.

“This is what we have been training for, and of course, I’m personally elated to be heading to Tokyo for my second Paralympic Games,” Goncin said.

“Although the last 16 months have been challenging, we were gifted an additional year to grow as a team. I believe we have the right mix of talent and, more importantly, the right team mindset to have success in Tokyo.”

Matteo Feriani, the men’s team head coach, feels confident in Canada’s chances of claiming a medal in the sport after a disappointing run in Rio.

“We have put together an excellent group with a good balance of veterans and emerging talent,” Feriani said in a statement. “We are confident in our ability to compete against the best in the world as we look to return to the Paralympic podium in Tokyo.

“Our players, coaches and support staff have put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to get prepared for these Games and I look forward to seeing the hard work pay off.”

Ouellet provides experience to women’s team

Cindy Ouellet is heading to her fourth Paralympic Games as a member of the Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball team.

The 32-year-old, born in Rivière-du-Loup, Que., is one of five players who competed in the 2016 Rio Games that are headed to Tokyo.

Melanie Hawtin, Rosalie Lalonde, Tamara Steeve and Arinn Young will also aim to improve on their 2016 campaign, when they lost to the Netherlands in the quarter-finals. The Dutch went on to defeat Great Britain in the bronze medal game.

They will be joined by Sandrin Bérubé, Kady Dandeneau, Danielle DuPlessis, Puisand Lai, Tara Llanes and Élodie Tessier, who will compete in the Games for the first time.

“Representing Team Canada on the international stage is always a huge honour and I’m excited to be going to my second Paralympics,” Young (St. Albert, Alta.) said in a statement. “While it will be a different experience from my previous Games, I am looking forward to building off what we accomplished in 2019.”

All but one player selected for Tokyo was part of the women’s team for the Lima 2019 Parapan Am Games when they edged the United States in the gold medal game.

The Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball team earned three consecutive gold medals from the 1992 Barcelona Games to the 2000 Sydney Olympics, but have yet to make it to the podium since claiming bronze at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Marc Antoine Ducharme, head coach of the Canadian women’s team, believes in the good balance of experience and youth.

“With 10 returning players from the team that won gold in Lima 2019 we are confident in the group heading to Tokyo for the Paralympics,” Ducharme said in a statement.

“Additionally, the five athletes with Paralympic experience from Rio gives us a good balance of veterans and young talent. I am proud of all our athletes, coaches, and support staff who have worked hard through challenging circumstances to be prepared for these Games.”

The Canadian women’s team will play Australia, Great Britain, Germany and Japan in the group stage from Aug. 25 to 29. The men’s team will face South Korea, Spain, Turkey, Colombia and Japan in the group stage from Aug. 26 to Aug. 30.

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