Five sports to watch at the Rio Paralympics

Tom Bridge Roar Pro

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    Wheelchair basketballer Brad Ness is the Australian Flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony on Wednesday night 7 September. With the famous Christ the Redeemer 2016 Paralympic Games - RIO Brazil Australian Paralympic Committee Rio Monday 6 September 2016 © Sport the library / Jeff Crow

    On Thursday morning the second biggest, but most amazing sporting event will finally get underway.

    Despite the poor planning and mismanagement, the 2016 Paralympic Games from Rio de Janeiro will deliver some incredible sporting moments. And for the first time in Australia, they will be broadcast on a commercial television network, across all media platforms.

    Some of you out there in reader land will be aware of the must-watch sports at the Rio Paralympics and some of you may need some helpful suggestions. This helpful guide of five sports to watch has been compiled with you, the unacquainted, in mind.

    Wheelchair rugby
    Fans of rugby on two legs will undoubtedly enjoy rugby on wheels. Wheelchair rugby, also known as ‘murderball’, is like dodgem cars for adults. The chairs even come with their own bumper bars.

    The aim of the game is to get the ball over the goal-line just like in the other rugby codes, the major difference being the wheels involved and the oval ball being replaced by a round one. The impacts are jarring and the speed and intensity, riveting.

    Wheelchair basketball
    Wheelchair basketball is like wheelchair rugby, without the contact, which is forbidden. And instead of holding onto the ball to score, you have to propel it towards a net from a sitting position.

    That is, if you have not tried it before, quite a challenging proposition.

    Both our men’s and women’s teams are strong performers in the wheelchair basketball, and both are likely to be in the mix for the medals.

    Wheelchair tennis
    If you thought tennis on two feet was difficult, try sitting in a chair and having to rapidly wheel yourself across a tennis court, before steadying your racquet and hitting a tennis ball over the net from a sitting position.

    Two-time Australian Open winner Dylan Alcott, who is also a gold and silver medallist from wheelchair basketball will almost certainly add another medal to his collection.

    Canoeing
    You probably read the name of this sport and immediately thought to yourself that this sport does not belong on a list of top sports to watch, but you would be wrong.

    Canoeing will debut at this year’s Paralympic Games and what will make it good to watch is the speed at which the athletes will slice through the water over what will be a 200-metre course. Something else to consider is the balance required to keep this type of vessel afloat.

    Couple the above with the likelihood of Australian medals being won among our six participants and there is all the reason you need to be tuning in to these events.

    Swimming
    Again, you are probably thinking what is going on here with the mere mention of swimming among sports to watch, but stay with us here.

    Yes, the sport does involve going down a lane, turning, and then going back up that same lane, but Paralympic swimming has more to it. Picture athletes without legs or arms thrusting through the water and lunging for the wall.

    If that does not convince you to watch the swimming, nothing will, and you should be ashamed.

    Maybe our medal hopes in swimming may convince you. With swimmers like Ellie Cole, Brenden Hall and Maddison Elliott swimming for Australia, it’s safe to say that we will see a number of gold medals coming from our exploits in the pool.

    Unfortunately athletics came in a very close sixth, but you can definitely tune into that and other sports. You will not be disappointed.

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