The Canadian women’s wheelchair basketball team won first place at the Parapan Am Games in Lima, Peru and the men’s team finished in second place. Both teams have secured their spots at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics as the Parapan Am Games are a direct qualifier for the Paralympics and the top three teams move on.
The women’s team fought their way to the gold-medal game where they faced the U.S.A.’s wheelchair basketball team. Team Canada defeated their opponents with a score of 67-64. The women’s team didn’t lose a game in the entire tournament earning a 5-0 record.
The Parapan Am Games was women’s team member Kady Dandeneau’s first tournament of the sort. The athlete from Pender Island has only been playing wheelchair basketball for four years but has a background in stand-up basketball.
The final game between Canada and the U.S.A. was very back and forth and neither team had a big advantage, she explained. In the end, Canada won by just three points.
“It was a total team achievement,” said Dandeneau. “The whole program gets the credit.”
Dandeneau noted that she enjoyed seeing how the sport is coming along in countries where the teams are still developing.
The Canadian women’s team has been working hard on their team chemistry and it really paid off, said Dandeneau. She feels the team is in a good place having just come off this big win.
“I’m super excited about the team and about heading into Tokyo,” said Dandeneau. The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics will be her Paralympic debut — a fact she said still feels surreal. She noted that it’s hard to get really good at wheelchair basketball and that the athletes work just as hard as able-bodied athletes.
“Wheelchair basketball doesn’t have the same exposure as able-bodied sports … but it’s really no different,” she said. “People are often surprised how competitive and physical it is.”
Dandeneau also noted that the Canadian women’s and men’s teams are quite close. The men’s team had a practice during the women’s gold-medal game, but caught the last quarter, she said.
When Victoria athlete, Deion Green was named to the Canadian men’s wheelchair basketball team in July, he correctly predicted that the team would play in the gold-medal match. The men’s team won all their games in the tournament except for the gold-medal match against the U.S.A. team. The team placed second after losing 43-76. However, by placing second, the Canadian men’s team still secured their place at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
This was the Canadian men’s team’s second Parapan Am Games silver medal after they placed second in Toronto in 2015. The team then played in the Rio 2016 Paralympics but, according to Green, didn’t do well.
Two other players from B.C. also played for the Canadian teams in Lima — Bo Hedges from Wonowon and Tara Llanes from North Vancouver.
The athletes travelled back to Canada on Tuesday and Dandeneau hoped on the ferry for a quick visit at home on Pender Island before starting her Masters at the University of Illinois. She’s already itching to get back on the court.