Wheelchair basketball is basketball played by people with varying physical disabilities that disqualify them from playing an able-bodied sport. These include spina bifida, birth defects, cerebral palsy, paralysis due to accident, amputations (of the legs, or other parts), and many other disabilities. The International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) is the governing body for this sport. It is recognized by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) as the sole competent authority in wheelchair basketball worldwide. FIBA has recognized IWBF under Article 53 of its General Statutes.
The IWBF has 82 National Organizations for Wheelchair Basketball (NOWBs) participating in wheelchair basketball throughout the world, with this number increasing each year. It is estimated that more than 100,000 people play wheelchair basketball from recreation to club play and as elite national team members.
Wheelchair basketball is included in the Paralympic Games. The Wheelchair Basketball World Championship is played two years after every Paralympic Games. Major competition in wheelchair basketball comes from Canada, Australia, the United States, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Japan.
In 1944, Ludwig Guttmann, through the rehabilitation program at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital, in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England, adapted existing sports to use wheelchairs. It was known as wheelchair netball.
At around the same times, starting from 1946, wheelchair basketball games were played primarily between American World War II disabled veterans. This began in the United States at the University of Illinois. Dr. Timothy Nugent founded the National Wheelchair Basketball Association in 1949 and served as commissioner for the first twenty-five years.
The Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Games, held in 1947, were the first games to be held and included only a handful of participants (26), and few events (shot put, javelin, club throw, and archery).
The number of wheelchair events and participants grew quickly. Wheelchair netball was introduced in the 1948 Games. In 1952, a team from the Netherlands was invited to compete with the British team. This became the first International Stoke-Mandeville Games (ISMG), an event that has been held annually ever since.
Wheelchair basketball, as we know it now, was first played at the 1956 International Stoke-Mandeville Games. The US "Pan Am Jets" team won the tournament.
In 1973, the International Stoke Mandeville Games Federation (ISMGF) established the first sub-section for wheelchair basketball. At that time ISMGF was the world governing body for all wheelchair sports.
In 1989 ISMGF accepted for its former wheelchair basketball sub-section to be named International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF).
Full independence came in 1993 with the IWBF becoming the world body for wheelchair basketball with full responsibility for development of the sport. Over the following years IWBF membership grew in size and based on the number of National Organizations for Wheelchair Basketball (NOWBs) with active programs, the international federation configured itself into four geographical zones: Africa, Americas, Asia/Oceania and Europe.
World championships for the sport have been held since 1973, with Bruges, Belgium being the first host city. The first world championship for men was won by Great Britain. Of the first 11 men's world championships, six were won by the United States (1979, 1983, 1986, 1994, 1998, 2002); and once each by Great Britain (the first ever championship in 1973), Israel (1975), France (1990), Canada (2006) and Australia (2010). Canada has won four of the women's world championship titles (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006), and the United States two (1990, 2010).
Wheelchair basketball retains most major rules and scoring of basketball, and maintains a 10-foot basketball hoop and standard basketball court. The exceptions are rules which have been modified with consideration for the wheelchair. For example, "travelling" in wheelchair basketball occurs when the athlete touches their wheels more than twice after receiving or dribbling the ball. The individual must pass, bounce or shoot the ball before touching the wheels again.
In some countries such as Canada, Australia and England, non-disabled athletes using wheelchairs are allowed to compete alongside other athletes on mixed teams.
Classification is an international regulation for playing wheelchair basketball to harmonize players' different levels of disabilities. All teams which compete above a recreational level use the classification system to evaluate the functional abilities of players on a point scale of 1 to 4.5. Minimally disabled athletes are classified as a 4.5, and an individual with the highest degree of disability (such as a paraplegic with a complete injury below the chest) would be classified as a 1.0. Competitions restrict the number of points allowable on the court at one time. The five players from each team on the court during play may not exceed a total of 14 points. In places where teams are integrated, non-disabled athletes compete as either a 4.5 in Canada or a 5.0 in Europe; however, non-disabled athletes are not allowed to compete internationally.
Basketball wheelchairs are designed for enhanced stability. The center of gravity is where the chair and the athlete's mass are equally distributed in all directions. Points at which the wheelchair can tip over sideways are the fulcrum. A wheelchair with a higher seat is easier to tip. Basketball chairs have lower seats and wheels that are angled outward so that the center of gravity has to move a greater distance before it passes over the fulcrum and tips the chair. Guards use wheelchairs different from those of centers and forwards. Forwards and centers are typically under the net, their chairs have higher seats and therefore less mobility, but the height increases the player's reach for shots at the hoop and for rebounds. Guards have lower seats and therefore greater stability for ball handling and getting down the court as quickly as possible.
Amber Merritt (born 17 February 1993) is a 4.5-point wheelchair basketball player who plays forward. She represented Australia at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, where she won a silver medal.
Born in England, Merritt moved to Australia when she was ten years old. She was originally a swimmer, but was recruited into basketball by the Paralympic Hall of Fame coach Frank Ponta in 2007. She started playing top level club wheelchair basketball in Australia for the Perth Western Stars in the Women's National Wheelchair Basketball League (WNWBL) in 2008. In 2013, she captained the team, and it to its first WNWBL championship. She was the league's top scorer, and the Most Valuable Player 4 pointer in its All Star Five, in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Merritt made her debut with the Australia women's national wheelchair basketball team, known as the Gliders, in 2009. She has played for the Gliders in a number of international series including the 2010 U23 World Championship, 2011 U25 World Championship, 2011, 2012 and 2013 Osaka Cups, the 2012 BT Paralympic World Cup, and 2012 Gliders and Rollers World Challenge in Sydney.Australia men's national wheelchair basketball team
The Australia men's national wheelchair basketball team is the men's wheelchair basketball side that represents Australia in international competitions. The team is known as the Rollers. Australia took the gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games and 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.
Australia has competed at every men's wheelchair basketball tournament at the Paralympic Games except 1964. Kevin Coombs was Australia's first captain of the men's wheelchair basketball team.
The Rollers qualified for the 2016 Summer Paralympics by winning the 2015 Asia Oceania Qualifying Tournament and finished sixth.Australia women's national wheelchair basketball team
The Australia women's national wheelchair basketball team is the women's wheelchair basketball side that represents Australia in international competitions. The team is known as the Gliders. The team hasn't won a gold medal for Australia since it began competing at the 1992 Summer Paralympics, however it has won either the silver or bronze medal since the 2000 Summer Paralympics held in Sydney. Gliders finished 6th at the 2014 Women's World Wheelchair Basketball Championship but did not qualify for the 2016 Summer Paralympics.Bill Latham (basketball)
Bill Latham (born 29 October 1989) is a wheelchair basketball player from Australia. He was a member of the Australian national team that competed at the 2010 and 2014 Wheelchair Basketball World Championships that won gold medals.
At the 2012 Summer Paralympics he was part of the Australian men's wheelchair team that won silver. In 2016, he was selected for the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.Brad Ness
Bradley John "Brad" Ness, OAM (born 24 November 1974) is an Australian wheelchair basketballer. He won a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing and silver medals at 2004 Athens and 2012 London Paralympics. He was selected as the Australian flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.Cobi Crispin
Cobi Crispin (born 22 December 1988) is a 4 point wheelchair basketball forward from Western Australia. She began playing wheelchair basketball in 2003 when she was 17 years old. The Victorian Institute of Sport and Direct Athlete Support (DAS) program have provided assistance to enable her to play. She played club basketball in the Women's National Wheelchair Basketball League (WNWBL) for the Victorian Dandenong Rangers in 2012 after having previously played for the Western Stars. In 2015 she began playing for the Minecraft Comets. She played for the University of Alabama in the United States in 2013-15.
Crispin made her Australian women's national wheelchair basketball team debut in 2006, competing in the Joseph F. Lyttle World Basketball Challenge that year, and participated in Paralympic qualification in 2007. She remained on the team and was part of the bronze medal winning Australia women's national wheelchair basketball team at the 2008 Summer Paralympics. At the 2010 IWBF World Championships in Birmingham England, her team finished fourth. The following year, she was captain of the 2011 Under 25 (U25) Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team at the 2011 Women's U25 Wheelchair Basketball World Championship, and earned a silver medal. Also in 2012, she participated in Paralympic qualifying, and went on to compete at the 2012 Summer Paralympics where her team finished second.Dylan Alcott
Dylan Martin Alcott, (born 4 December 1990) is an Australian wheelchair basketballer, wheelchair tennis player, radio host and motivational speaker. Alcott was a member of the Australia men's national wheelchair basketball team, known colloquially as the Australian "Rollers". At the age of 17 he became the youngest Australian "Rollers" wheelchair basketball gold medal winner for wheelchair basketball, and was the youngest to compete in the Wheelchair Basketball competition. In 2014, he returned to wheelchair tennis with the aiming of participating at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. At the 2016 Rio Paralympics, he won gold medals in the Men's Quad Singles and Doubles. He was named the 2016 Australian Paralympian of the Year due to his outstanding achievements at Rio Paralympics. Alongside his sporting career, he hosted the weekend afternoon radio show on Australian radio station Triple J, and the ABC (Australian TV channel) live music show The Set, as well as being a commentator for the 2019 Australian Open. He also was a member of the panel on the AFL Footy Show in 2019Jannik Blair
Jannik Blair (born 3 February 1992) is a 1 point wheelchair basketball player who has played for the University of Missouri and the National Wheelchair Basketball League Dandenong Rangers. He is a member of the Australia men's national wheelchair basketball team, making his debut in 2009, and was member of the Australian team that won the silver medal at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in wheelchair basketball.Katie Hill (basketball)
Katie Hill (born 17 February 1984) is an Australian 3.0 point wheelchair basketball player. She participated in the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, where she won a bronze medal, and the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, where she won a silver medal. She has over 100 international caps playing for Australia.
Hill plays for the Sydney University Flames in the Australian Women's National Wheelchair Basketball League (WNWBL). As the Hills Hornets, her team won the league championship in 2007, 2008 and 2009. After changing their name to the Sydney University Flames, they again won the WNWBL championship in 2010. She was named 4 point Most Valuable Player (MVP) and a member of the All Star Five in 2007. In 2009, she scored 21 points in the Hornets' 66-49 final win against the Perth Western Stars, and was named MVP of the finals series.
Hill made her national team debut in 2005 in Malaysia at the World Junior Wheelchair Basketball Championships, and has played for the Australia women's national wheelchair basketball team, universally known as the Gliders, at the IWBF World Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Amsterdam in 2006 and Birmingham in 2010, and at the 2007, 2009 and 2010 Osaka Cups in Japan.Liesl Tesch
Liesl Dorothy Tesch AM (born 17 May 1969) is an Australian wheelchair basketball player, sailor and politician. She became an incomplete paraplegic after a mountain bike accident at the age of 19. She competed in her national wheelchair basketball team at five paralympics, winning three medals, and was the first woman to play the sport professionally. She took up sailing in 2010, winning gold medals at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Paralympics with partner Daniel Fitzgibbon. In April 2017, she was elected the member for Gosford in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly at the Gosford state by-election.Sarah Stewart (basketball)
Sarah Stewart (born 13 June 1976) is a 3.0 point wheelchair basketball player from Australia. She participated in the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens, where she won a silver medal; in the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, where she won a bronze medal; and the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, where she won a second silver medal.
Stewart has played in the Australian Women's National Wheelchair Basketball League (WNWBL) and the National Wheelchair Basketball League (NWBL) since 2002. She has won numerous awards, including being named to the 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012 WNWBL All-Star Five; the 2009 and 2010 WNWBL Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the 3 point class; and the 2002 WNWBL Best New Talent. She was 2010 WNWBL Champion with the Sydney Uni Flames, and 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 WNWBL Champion with the Hills Hornets. She was the WNWBL's Highest point scorer in 2010. She was also a 2005 and 2004 NWBL Champion with the West Sydney Razorbacks.
Stewart was first selected to play for the Australia women's national wheelchair basketball team, known as the Gliders, in 2003. Since then she has played over 150 international games for Australia, winning gold medals at the Asia-Oceania 2012 and 2008 Paralympic Qualifiers, the Asia-Oceania 2006 World Cup Qualifiers, and the 2009, 2010 and 2012 Osaka Cup. She was named MVP of the 2012 Osaka Cup and was All-Star Five in the Four-Nation International in Sydney in 2007.Shaun Norris
Shaun Daryl Norris, OAM (born 2 April 1985) is an Australian wheelchair basketball player.Shelley Chaplin
Shelley Chaplin (born 4 September 1984) is an Australian 3.5-point player wheelchair basketball player. She participated in the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens, where she won a silver medal; in the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, where she won a bronze medal, and the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, where she won a second silver medal, a win she dedicated to her lifelong friend Shannon.
Chaplin began playing wheelchair basketball in 1999, after initially contemplating developing her archery skills, and made her debut in the Women's National Wheelchair Basketball League (WNWBL) in 2000. She was part of the WNWBL championship Dandenong Rangers sides in 2011 and 2012. She was first selected for the Australia women's national wheelchair basketball team, known as the Gliders, in 2001, and first represented Australia in 2002, winning a bronze medal as part of the team at the 2002 World Wheelchair Basketball Championship. She played for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign wheelchair basketball team, and was named an All-American in the 2006/07 season. Her team won the national championships in 2009.Tige Simmons
Tige Arthur Simmons, OAM (born 5 May 1977) is an Australian wheelchair basketball player who represented Australia in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Paralympic Games.Tina McKenzie
Tina McKenzie (born 8 June 1974) is an Australian wheelchair basketball player. She participated in the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens, where she won a silver medal; in the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, where she won a bronze medal; and the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, where she won a second silver medal. After becoming an incomplete paraplegic as a result of a fall from a building in 1994, she took up wheelchair tennis and later wheelchair basketball. She joined the Australia women's national wheelchair basketball team, known as the Gliders, in 1999, and played her first international match at the 2002 World Wheelchair Basketball Championship in Japan. She has over 100 international caps.Tristan Knowles
Tristan Malcolm Knowles, OAM (born 25 April 1983) is an Australian wheelchair basketball player and won a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.Wheelchair Basketball World Championship
The IWBF World Wheelchair Basketball Championship is an international wheelchair basketball competition contested by the men's and the women's national teams of the members of the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF), the sport's global governing body.
The first unofficial Wheelchair Basketball World Championships for men was held in 1973, with Bruges, Belgium being the first host city. The unofficial world championship for men was won by Great Britain, with a team that included Philip Craven, who would later become the President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). Bruges, Belgium also hosted the first official World Championships, known as the Gold Cup tournament, in 1975.
The men's world championships has been won 6 times by the United States, twice each by Australia and Great Britain (one of which being the unofficial Championship in 1973), and once each by Israel, France and Canada. Wheelchair basketball world championships for women have been held since 1990. In the first 6 women's world championships, Canada has won four world titles, and the United States two world titles.Wheelchair basketball at the 2012 Summer Paralympics
Wheelchair basketball at the 2012 Summer Paralympics was held from 30 August to 8 September. Competitions were held at the newly built Basketball Arena, which seated 10,000 spectators, and The O2 Arena (renamed "North Greenwich Arena" during the games due to sponsorship rules). Australia were the defending champions of the men's championship, while the United States were the defending champions of the women's championship.Wheelchair basketball at the 2016 Summer Paralympics
Wheelchair basketball at the 2016 Summer Paralympics will be held from 8 to 17 September at Carioca Arena 1 and the Rio Olympic Arena in Rio de Janeiro.
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