Rio 201 Paralympics Games have just started and we spoke to Patrick Anderson who is largely considered to be the best wheelchair basketball player in the world and one of the greatest to have ever played the game. He spoke to us about how he feels to be an observer, his thoughts about the upcoming games and expectations.
Patrick Anderson is no longer playing for Canada at the Paralympics. After London 2012 he decided to retire from International basketball so for him it is a new situation watching the games from home and not being a part of them.
“I have mixed feelings. There are no regrets with the decision I made to focus on music rather than basketball over the past few years. But I will miss playing with and against the best players in the world. Or to be more honest with ourselves and fair to the great able-bodied players out there, the best disabled players in the world.”
Looking back at his breathtaking career there are two great moments for Patrick. He says the Sydney Paralympic Games in 2000 was special because it was all new, and because they had so many hilarious characters on that team, he added that being able to share London with his wife was also cool.
But there are also tough moments he remembers. The most difficult moment has been deciding whether or not to keep going after London.
“Like I said, I don’t regret the decision, but that’s not to say it wasn’t really hard. It was easier to walk away after losing in Beijing than it was to walk away after winning.”
In Rio 2016 Paralympic Games his heart will beat for the Canadians for sure and he hopes that they will win a medal. To the question who might be the favorite for Gold he answers:
“It’s hard to deny that the USA look very good. If you can’t win with that small ball lineup, you can’t win playing small ball. You can’t count out Australia either, even with no Justin.”
He also says that the Canadian team will be pesky.
“I wouldn’t want to play them on a short turnaround or on a day when I was in a bad mood. They will only make it worse.”
Besides this he is also looking forward to seeing how the Canadian women will do at Rio.
“They have such a cool, uniquely talented team. I want to see if they can follow up their World Championship with a gold in Rio.”
As a player of the national team for many years of course he knows which challenge the players have to meet during their preparation and during the games. In Patrick’s opinion the challenge is to relax and be patient. When you’re under pressure, it’s easy to envy the swimmer who races on day three and then can start their vacation.
“Also, even when you’re in the middle of an enormous event that’s designed to look, sound and feel as much like the Olympics as possible, hints slip into the Paralympic bubble that the world has moved on. It can be a challenge to ignore that and focus on the great opportunity and the moment.”
Today Patrick Anderson looks at wheelchair basketball in a very different way to what it wasten years ago. The game has become more physical, more incidental contact is allowed. The change in chair measurement is another significant fact he points out and he is a critical observer:
“You could always prop up a big 3 pointer on a 4” cushion, players like Will Waller, Ian Sagar, but now you can do it without the facade of the 4” cushion. It’s just more transparent now that some 3 pointers don’t need the extra padding for therapeutic reasons. Tough pill to swallow if you’re a 3.5 athlete”