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Hello Sports fans! What an Incredible conclusion to our Paralympics in Rio as well as the Wheelchair rugby event as whole was well represented. For Team USA it would not be any other way, led by Team Captain Chuck Aoki against Australia, the defending gold medalist in London in Paralympic games of 2012, featuring the best player in the world Ryley Batt.
This game featured the only two undefeated teams in the Paralympics as well as the number one ranked team by the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) team USA verses #2 Australia ranked #2 in the world by IRWF respectively. It could also be argued that Chuck Aoki of Team USA is the #2 best player in the world but no doubt that Ryley Batt is number one. His skills were on full display this past weekend as he and team Australia would go toe to toe and wire to wire in the first ever televised Paralympic gold medal match viewed in the states on National television. It did not disappoint.
This match would go past regulation and would need two over times before team Australia would be the victors in a one point win over Team USA 59 to 58. It will be a repeat for team Australia as they successfully defend their goal medal which was won in London at the 2012 Paralympic games. This has not been done since team USA won back to back Gold medals in 1996 and 2000.
Ryley Batt successfully displayed his skill as he played every minute of the game including two overtimes. He also had the defensive play of the game in which he knocked a USA player out of bounds before he was able to possess the ball. This results in a turnover for team USA as in the final seconds of the game team USA tried to tie the games and send into a third overtime. This was to no avail.
However, even though this is a bitter sweet loss for team USA. What should be forgotten is that team USA brought to Rio a very young team in which they had six first time Paralympic athletes that had never been on a national team or in a Paralympics. What this means is that there is a future for team USA as Josh Brewer and Cody Pudabugh played extensive and critical moments, as well as Jeff Butler. To say at times that their lack of experience was a determent to Team USA winning the gold medal can be one to debate. I, however, feel that this young US team lost in double overtime to Australia who were the defending gold medalist who have the best player in wheelchair rugby. They were very much in this game with opportunities to beat Australia as they have in the past. For Team USA, team captain Chuck Aoki was the team’s best player in this Paralympics, however, Team USA can reside in the fact they have two young players to continue to build on their winning tradition. Team USA Rugby has medal at every Paralympics.
However, the story for 2016 in Rio was that for the first in US television history to have coverage of Paralympic Gold medal wheelchair rugby match on national TV for everyone to see. What they saw was a strong effort by Team USA. This was the best gold medal match in wheelchair rugby ever at the Paralympics. I hoped you enjoyed it. However, Team USA wins the silver medal and team Australia is the gold medalist once again. Team Australia will continue to be the best team due to the efforts of Ryley Batt.
I can’t wait for the next four years!!!