On Friday I went to the evening Wheelchair Basketball session at the Paralympics:
First we had the chance to wander around the Olympic Park. It was surprising how little park there was, since I was expecting lots of greenery. However, there was enough space for a quiet picnic besides a canal. As expected their were crowds of people, but not so many as to block paths. Everyone seemed good-natured and happy to be there.
We watched two matches: a men’s game between Australia and Turkey; and a China versus France women’s game. The sport is quite fast and furious. People were regularly knocked out of their wheelchairs and stayed on ground until helped up (by their teammates or coach). Most of the rules seem the same as the able-bodied version of Basketball, although the tactics a little different as fighting for position appeared far more important. Presumably this is due to the wheelchairs occupying more space and the competitors inability to jump. So being in the prime shooting or rebound position meant the next nearest person was a wheelchair width away with no chance of jumping over the top of you. Also, it was very common to see defensive players position themselves so a opponent couldn’t move (as their wheels were jammed). In this manner the Chinese team used a full court press to prevent the French even crossing the halfway line before the shot clock expired.
The men’s match was very exciting. Australia won in the end, but Turkey lead by 1 with 5 minutes to go. The winning margin of 7 was the largest gap between the teams since the first quarter. The women’s match was a walkover – the Chinese completely dominated, managing twice the score of their French opponents.