The USA men’s national team have experienced success at the last five Americas Cups (Parapan Am Games) and will be heading into next week’s in Cali, Colombia looking to maintain their crown.
Recently, IWBF junior writer Dylan Cummings caught up with USA’s Steve Serio ahead of the IWBF Americas Cup.
So how has Team USA’s preparation been going in the run up to the tournament? Serio, who turns 30 this September, said, “The team is doing well, the experience of the Rio gold medal team combined with some young talent means that the team is shaping up to be in good form.”
He continued to talk about the post-Rio changes within the team including the regrouping process. He is pleased that the squad has retained most of their players from Rio – eight members of the Paralympic squad will be present in Colombia alongside four new members that have been involved with the USA programme for a number of years.
Expanding on this, he said, “The eight from Rio have provided stability within the team, whilst the newer members have folded in well into the squad dynamics. Although the team will have to run different line-ups due to the classifications of players, the new guys are just as hungry and have given us the shot of adrenaline we needed post-Rio.”
Serio, has been part of the USA men’s senior team since 2006 and has already experienced much success, with one gold and one bronze medal from the Paralympics, two silvers and one bronze medal at the World Championships, and five gold medals at the Americas Cup (Parapan Am Games). When asked what the team’s hopes are for this tournament, he explained, “Qualifying for the World Championships is the number one priority. Coming off such an amazing performance in Rio, we want to build on that momentum. Our expectations are high, we never go into a tournament thinking we are going to lose, we are going there to compete in the gold medal game.”
Mental preparation is an important factor when competing at a major tournament, especially against teams that know each other well. Serio continued, “We are familiar with the teams, they are in our zone so some of us have developed friendships with players from other teams; it’s important that when we’re on the court, friendship goes out the window and we compete at the highest level against each other.”
The 2017 Americas Cup will not only see a friend back on the court, but also his New York Rolling Knicks teammate, Patrick Anderson, who returns for Canada, “He’s an amazing player, our sport is better when he is involved.”
Serio also thinks the return of Patrick Anderson combined with the young talent that Canada have, will make them tough competition, but added, “You never know what team Brazil is going to bring to a tournament due to their success in Rio. Colombia also play well in front of a hometown crowd, they thrive off the energy and emotion of their fans.”
These fans make the Americas Cup experience even better Serio continued, “The energy within the environment is incredible, you couldn’t ask for anything better. We love competing in front of the Colombian fans.”
The IWBF Americas Cup, will take place in Cali, Colombia between August 23rd – 30th. This competition will serve as the Americas zone qualifier for next year’s World Championships. Visit the website for more information.
Written by IWBF junior writer, Dylan Cummings