The USA Women’s team head into the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games with a strong squad as they look to retain their title from 2015.
The group of twelve athletes selected boasts veteran talent blended with a core of younger athletes. The team includes six members of the USA gold medal-winning team from the 2016 Rio Paralympics, as well as retaining a core seven athletes from the 2018 IWBF World Championships team.
USA’s head coach Trooper Johnson commented on the selection:
“I believe we have selected one of the strongest teams we have had recently. We had some of our veteran players return and the time we have had to develop our new athletes has given us a really deep team. The team is playing together well and has had a great training programme leading up to the games.”
The Lima 2019 Parapan American Games will act as the zonal qualification tournament for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and there are only two places up for grabs in the women’s competition. Coach Johnson, added:
“Our main goal is to be playing in the gold medal game and qualify for Tokyo. Ideally, we want to match the performance we had in 2015 and repeat being the Parapan gold medallists. The obvious contenders in addition to us are Canada and Brazil. Canada has a great training programme and some of their athletes were successful during the 2019 Intercollegiate Championships. Brazil have been developing since they started preparing for the Games in Rio; their athletes have changed over the past few years, but I expect them to come out strong. Plus we have also not seen Mexico for a while and they could be strong too.”
Among the final selection, the six who were part of the gold-medal winning 2016 Rio Paralympic team are Megan Blunk, Abigail Dunkin, Rose Hollermann, Darlene Hunter, Rebecca Murray, and Natalie Schneider.
Murray, who is returning to the side following a break since 2016, is looking forward to Lima:
“I’m super excited to be back on the USA Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team and I can’t wait to compete with these ladies in Lima.”
USA will compete in Group B for the preliminary round alongside Brazil, Chile, and hosts Peru, with the top two in the group moving onto the semi-finals. Commenting on the competition, Murray said:
“I always think that you have to take it a game at a time and you can never count anyone out. I think everyone that we play in Lima will be a good match for us and will be a contender.
“From my perspective, our goals for Lima include qualifying for the 2020 Paralympics and to contend for the gold medal. I also think our goal would be to use Lima to continue building our team chemistry towards 2020.”
Also part of the team are five gold-medal winners from the recent 2019 U25 Women’s World Championship team including All-Star Five athlete Abigail Dunkin. She agreed with Murray’s assessment:
“We face every team with the same respect and mentality as if every team is ranked top in the world. Canada and Brazil have shown that they have the talent and grit that will make it a harder competition than it already is.
“Our team goal is to be the best version of ourselves, and with that is to qualify for Tokyo 2020. Also coming back to the States with a gold medal would be a bonus.”
USA WOMEN’S TEAM ROSTER FOR LIMA 2019
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For more information on the USA women’s team visit National Wheelchair Basketball Association.
Full competition schedule for the wheelchair basketball at Lima 2019 can be found here.