Troy Curtis

As both Canadian Senior National Wheelchair Basketball Teams head into a busy summer schedule, their eyes are set on one goal: the 2018 World Championships in Hamburg, Germany in August. The road to Worlds has already begun with both teams training hard and often in a centralized setting since early May at the National Training Centre at the Toro­­nto Pan Am Sports Centre (TPASC).

“We train probably around 4-6 hours per day as a team,” said Senior Women’s National Team member Arinn Young. “Individually, we’re logging in 1-3 hours a day.”

Nik Goncin, of the Senior Men’s National Team, touched on the amount and intensity of the training in preparation for a big event like Worlds.

“I don’t think you can put it into words how taxing it is. Not even just physically…physically, there’s the component where we’re training half the day every single day whether it be working out, stretching, or being on court with the guys. But mentally, everyone has their own lives that they have to balance as well.”

Training kicked into a higher gear in June as both teams hit the road for a series of international friendly competitions in preparation for Hamburg.

The Senior Women’s National Team headed to Lyon, France in early June to compete in the 2018 Lyon Competition. They had a chance to train and play against Great Britain, France, and Spain.

After a first game nail-biter loss to Spain, Canada swiftly responded the next game against host France, winning by 18 points. After going 1-2 in the opening round of play, Canada won in the semifinals to advance to the final against the British team. After a hard-fought effort, the women secured the silver medal in Lyon.

Meanwhile, the Senior Men’s National Team headed to Japan where they competed in the Mitsubishi World Challenge Cup at the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza in Tokyo. The venue will host part of the wheelchair basketball competition at the 2020 Paralympic Games.

The men finished 2-2 in the tournament, beating Germany twice while falling to Australia and Japan over the weekend.

Prior to the event in Tokyo, Canada received a very warm welcome to Japan as the team was hosted by the City of Nagoya. This included a visit from the mayor and local students as the team trained at Meijo University. “Canadian hospitality has a serious contender,” said Goncin. “Our experience in Japan has been one of a kind.”

Upon returning home, from June 25-29, the men will play host to the Netherlands at TPASC for a series of friendly games. The Canada vs. Netherlands match on June 28 at 5p.m. is open to the public and admission is free.

After Canada Day, both teams go across the pond to Sheffield, UK for the 2018 Continental Clash from July 2-6. The Canadian men will face Great Britain, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain. On the women’s side, Canada will match up against Great Britain, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands.

Only a couple weeks later, the Canadian men head to Poland to play in their last tournament of the summer before Worlds from July 17-22.

Finally, both Canadian teams will stage in Europe in early August for training to mark their last stop on the journey to Worlds prior to making their way to Hamburg.

The 2018 IWBF World Championships take place August 16-26 in Hamburg, Germany. Be sure to check out Wheelchair Basketball Canada on our social channels to follow #TeamCanada along the journey to Worlds and beyond.

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