GOLD MEDAL TRIAD

The IWBF awards the Gold Medal Triad to individuals who have contributed to the growth and development of wheelchair basketball in an outstanding manner on both the national and international levels. A large majority of the wheelchair basketball community recognizes his or her involvement. The awardee’s history of life and work may serve as a model for others to follow as his or her role transcended personal interests for the betterment of everyone in the community.

Robert Perri (France) - Coach

Received the Gold Medal Triad in 1993.

Robert Perri was the father of the French wheelchair basketball programme and coach of the highly successful French national team until 1988

Henk Makkenze (The Netherlends) - Player

A master of court control, Henk Makkenze,  captained the Dutch team, winning Paralympic silver three times. He also discovered that the use of cambered drive wheels greatly improved the manoeuvrability and agility of basketball wheelchairs – an innovation that transformed the sport and is still in use in the modern game..

Makkenze played numerous times for the Dutch national team and for his club, Rowic. He was also the assistant coach of the women’s national team.

Alongside Israel’s Baruch Hagai, Makkenze ran clinics around the world in the 1970s and 1980s to develop wheelchair basketball.

For his work he was awarded Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau by Her Majesty the Queen of The Netherlands. In 1994, he also received the IWBF’s highest award – The Gold Medal Triad.

André Raes (Belgium) - Administrator

André Raes was the first Chairman of the Basketball Section of the International Stoke Mandeville Games Federation (ISMGF) in 1973 and also the founder of the Wheelchair Basketball Gold Cup in 1973.

The three Gold Cup Tournaments, which took place in Bruges/Belgium in 1973, 1975 and 1990, were organized most efficiently by Raes.

Raes was awarded the IWBF Gold Medal Triad in 1994.

Ed Owen (USA) - Player

Ed Owen’s expertise in wheelchair basketball spanned nearly 50 years as an athlete and coach. Expertise he shared in a book Playing and Coaching Wheelchair Basketball (University of Illinois Press).

Owen was a seven-time USA Paralympian, five times in basketball, from 1964 in Tokyo through 1988 in Seoul, winning gold, silver, and bronze medals in various sports including basketball, swimming and athletics. Playing on four NWBA national championship teams, he was selected to 12 NWBA All-Tournament Teams and was named MVP in 1974. The NWBA membership voted him as “The Best Wheelchair Basketball Player of All Time”.

Owen moved to Germany to spread his vast knowledge of the game to many European countries, whilst there he helped coach the German Women’s team to a Silver Medal at the sixth Women’s European Championships in Deldon, Netherlands in 1995.

Inducted into the NWBA Hall of Fame in 1987, he was the first American to ever receive the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation’s (IWBF) Gold Medal Triad Award in 1995. He enjoyed the epic moment when he hit the game-winning shot in the Gold Medal Game of the 1972 Paralympic Games in Germany.

Tim Nugent (USA) - Philosopher

Dr. Timothy Nugent was the founder of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association of the USA in 1949 and also known as the “Father of Accessibility”, of the philosophy of the self-determination in rehabilitation and in wheelchair sports.

He also created the first comprehensive program of higher education for individuals with disabilities at the University of Illinois and started the Gizz Kids, the original collegiate wheelchair basketball team. He played and coached basketball, and this is where he started to get the inspiration to have the same opportunities in sport for everyone regardless of their physical limitations.

Always a visionary, Tim Nugent expanded wheelchair basketball beyond the VA hospitals to bring structure to the sport and create worldwide adoption and acceptance for wheelchair basketball. That acceptance has seen the sport grow into one that is now competing on the program of the Paralympic Games, which has been enjoyed by millions of people.

Stan Labanowich (USA) - Administrator & Legislator

Stan Labanowich was a founding member of the Wheelchair Basketball Section of the International Stoke Mandeville Games Federation (ISMGF), the forerunner of the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) and also Chairman of this first international organization for wheelchair basketball fromm 1976-1988.

He served as the elected commissioner of the USA’s National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) from 1973 to 1995.

In 1972 Labanowich also coached the USA men’s team to the Paralympic gold medal in Heidelberg, Germany.

Baruch Hagai (Israel) - Player

Baruch Hagai was one of the first to join the Israel Sports Center for the Disabled, in 1960.

Hagai demonstrated supreme control over his wheelchair and was one of the international pioneering forces behind the development of offensive tactics in wheelchair basketball. Due to his great talent and his inspiring leadership, he led the Israeli wheelchair basketball team to many great victories. His extraordinary record includes 10  gold medals: Paralympic Games––1968, 1980: Stoke Mandeville Games––1967, 1969, 1981; World Championships­­––1971, 1975; and European Championships––1971, 1978, 1981.

Hagai showed great virtuosity in his approach to the game of wheelchair basketball, and was also famous for his sportsmanship, serving as a role model the world over. For 20 years he also served as a volunteer basketball coach at the ISCD, desiring to give something back to the Center for everything he felt the ISCD had given him

In 1986, Hagai was declared as a “Man of Peace” on behalf of the International Olympic Committee and in 2001, he was awarded with the Israel Prize for sports, in recognition of his long years of excellence in disabled sports.

Susan Hagel (USA) - Player

Susan Hagel was the first woman to be awarded the IWBF Gold Medal Triad in 1998.

USA’s Hagel’s great strengths were as both a player and leader. In 1974, she participated in the first game between two organized women’s teams and has played in the NWBA Women’s Division longer than any other woman in the history of the NWBA.

She was a member of 14 USA National Teams competing at the Paralympic Games, Stoke Mandeville Games, Pan American Championships and World Championships.

Hagel was the second woman in 51 years to be inducted into the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) Hall of Fame.

Horst Strohkendl (Germany) - Pioneer, Innovator & Social Philosopher

Horst Strohkendl has been involved in wheelchair sports since 1969, he has dedicated most of his life to the sport.

Strohkendl was the pioneer, developer and author of the functional classification of wheelchair basketball. He was Chairman of the first sport-specific classification committee of the ISMFG and was part of the Executive Committee when IWBF established its independence.

Strohkendl was awarded the Gold Medal Triad in 1998.

Frederico Posse (Argentina) - Classifier
Bernard Courbariaux (France) - Classifier & Administrator

Bernard Courbariaux was instrumental in the development of the wheelchair basketball classification system.

Courbariaux was an international classifier between 1988-1998 as well as an IWBF Executive Committee Member and  President of IWBF Classification Commission.

He was an extremely competent administrator who transformed the application of the IWBF Player Classification System.

Chantal Benoit (Canada) - Player

Canadian Chantal Benoît made the Canadian National Team in 1984, merely a year after she started playing the sport. She was a veteran member of Team Canada for more than two decades, including the team’s dynasty years in the 1990s. She has been labelled the Michael Jordan of women’s wheelchair basketball and is quite possibly the greatest woman to have ever played the game.

She has competed at seven Paralympic Games and owns four Paralympic medals in her athletic portfolio: gold from the Barcelona Paralympic Games in 1992, gold from the Atlanta Paralympic Games in 1996, gold from the Sydney Paralympic Games in 2000, and a bronze from the Athens Paralympic Games in 2004.

In 2000, she received the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation’s highest honour, the Gold Medal Triad Award.

George Swindlehurst (Great Britain) - Player

Great Britain’s George Swindlehurst MBE, known affectionately as ‘Ginger’, won medals at three Paralympic Games and two Commonwealth Wheelchair Games during the 1960s and 70s.

In 1960, in Rome, Ginger competed in the first Summer Paralympics as part of Great Britain men’s wheelchair basketball team where he and the British team won silver in Men’s Tournament Class A. In the 1964 Games in Tokyo Ginger also won silver. He competed in the men’s wheelchair basketball tournaments right up to 1972.

George, was named Paraplegic Sportsman of the Year in 1966 and was presented with the IWBF Gold Medal Triad in 2000 – a lifetime achievement award and the highest accolade in wheelchair basketball.

Katsuyuki Hamamoto (Japan) - Administrator

Katsuyuki Hamamoto himself is the history of the wheelchair basketball in Japan. These are the words that are repeatedly echoed through the wheelchair basketball community in Japan and define Hamamoto’s immeasurable contribution to our sport.

In 1963, Hamamoto began playing wheelchair basketball for a team he helped form at the Beppu National Center for the Severely Disabled. The following year he competed in basketball and athletics at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.

During a sustained period of productive activity, he began forming teams and introducing wheelchair basketball to the public throughout Japan. By 1975, he had established Japanese Wheelchair Basketball Federation and became its president, a position he held for over 20 years.

By 1983, he had proved instrumental in the introduction of twin basketball in Japan, a sport played by tetraplegics. By this time, his unlimited accomplishments had earned the respect of the international community. He played an instrumental role in the formation of the IWBF’s Asia Oceania Zone and has served capably as its president since its inception in 1995.

Hamamoto received the IWBF Gold Medal Triad in 2001 alongside his Japanese counterpart Eiji Yoshinaga.

Eiji Yoshinaga (Japan) - Administrator

Yoshinaga could be proposed as the ultimate role model for all athletes with disabilities by demonstrating a highly influential presence in wheelchair basketball and in society as well.

He has been the first to admit that any power that he has accumulated, and that is considerable, is based on his involvement in wheelchair basketball: “Wheelchair basketball gave me confidence in my own ability, first physically and then mentally.”

From the time he first joined Japan Sun Industries as a trainee and its wheelchair basketball club as a player in 1968, his influence on the industry and the game proved enormous, so much so that he ultimately became secretary general of both Sun Industries as well as the IWBF’s Asia Oceania Zone.

He has received numerous honours for his contributions, many of them supported by Sun Industries, from the governing bodies of not only wheelchair basketball but of Japan as well. By 1984, he had extended his influence in wheelchair basketball outside of Japan by organizing developmental activities in Korea, Thailand and China.

Having resigned as secretary general of the IWBF Asia Oceania Zone in 1999, he continued to serve as an advisor to wheelchair basketball in the zone and directed the Executive Committee organizing the 2002 IWBF World Championships (then known as the Gold Cup).

Eiji Yoshinaga received the IWBF Gold Medal Triad in 2001.

 

Sir Philip Craven MBE (Great Britain) - Player & Administrator

Playing for Great Britain, Phil Craven, the player, demonstrated great passion and uncommon competitiveness, intelligence and shooting ability. At that time, he was well on his way to becoming one of the greatest players the IWBF has seen.

But the Gold Medal Triad is not awarded to individuals solely for their achievements on the basketball court. It is awarded to men and women whose contributions to wheelchair basketball and its development are beyond comparison. Craven transferred the same passion, the same competitiveness, and the same level of intelligence that became evident on the basketball court to the IWBF boardroom.

Wheelchair basketball developed dramatically during the 14 years Craven was president of IWBF.  He demanded respect for the game and elevated the level of respect wheelchair basketball players have earnt and deserved.

In 1984, Phil Craven became chairman of the Classification Committee in international wheelchair basketball. By that time, Craven had already led a movement that rejected medical dominance in classification in favour of the superior functional, player classification system that the IWBF proudly uses today.

For Craven, classification became the symbol of a system trapped in the domination of the medical world and dominated by medical exams that reminded him of the hospital as opposed to the basketball court. As a result of Phil Craven’s efforts and others, players began playing a greater role in a classification system where they would no longer be treated like patients, but as athletes. Consequently, classification now takes place almost exclusively on the basketball court. The liberation of classification from medical dominance may have been Craven’s greatest achievement.

But there was more. As a result of his great passion and respect for the game, Craven quickly realised that wheelchair basketball could not continue as a subsection of the International Stoke Mandeville Games Federation. Convinced that the label “subsection” was contrary to the image of independence, self-sufficiency and self-determination that he sought to project, convinced as well that “subsection” was unsuitable for image and marketing purposes, he pursued independence from the Stoke Mandeville Federation, and in 1989, the old wheelchair basketball subsection became the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF).

Phil Craven proved equally instrumental in advancing the status of wheelchair basketball within FIBA. Thanks in great part to his persistent efforts; the IWBF is now recognised as a partner in basketball with FIBA, a partnership that not so accidentally preserves the ideals of independence and self-determination that have characterised all of Craven’s work on and off the basketball court. Wheelchair basketball is now recognised within FIBA as a unique sport, played by unique and talented athletes.

Craven did not isolate himself in the boardroom, office or meeting room. He remained in close contact with the game and its players by conducting clinics on how to play the game, as well as clinics on the rules and on classification. He demonstrated over and over again that qualified, experienced players, and there are many in this category, should assume leadership along with non-players in every aspect of wheelchair basketball. Phil Craven became the first player elected to the IWBF Executive.

Under his leadership, IWBF went from success to success. He servse as a symbol that players can not only become stars on the court, but that players possess the ability to capably govern their game, a game invented by players. He has indeed become a living symbol that self-determination forms the basic foundation of wheelchair basketball. His outstanding leadership cries out to players who are here today and to players around the world: “Get involved. You can govern. You are powerful, both on and off the basketball court.”

Borislav Stanković (Yugoslavia) - Administrator
Armand Thiboutot (USA) - Administrator & Writer

Armand “Tip” Thiboutot was introduced to wheelchair basketball in the mid-1960s after incurring a spinal cord injury while serving in the United States Army. In addition to playing and coaching for more than forty years, Tip extended his influence through his analytical writings in Sports ‘N Spokes and the IWBF’s Basketball News-both widely-read journals that serve the population of wheelchair sports in the USA and abroad.

His influence in the development of the sport has also been felt through his elected offices, specifically as vice president of both the NWBA and the IWBF from the late 1970s to 2002. He edited the IWBF Newsletter from 1988 until his retirement in 2002, publishing articles and issuing reports on technical matters dealing with coaching, player classification, rules, and organization of the sport.

 

Koyko Tsukamoto (Japan) - Player

Kyoko Tsukamoto is one of Japan’s most renowned wheelchair basketball players.

Tsukamoto, a talented swimmer, track athlete and volleyball player prior to her car accident, started playing wheelchair basketball with Parakanagawa in 1977. By 1981 she was selected to the Japan National Women’s team to play in the programme, Have a Seat “81, a series of friendly matches in 7 Japanese cities with the U.S.A. women’s team.

She has played in four Paralympic games and helped Japan win the Bronze Medal in 1984 and in 2000.  She also played in the 1990 and 1998 World Championships (also known as Gold Cups). Her past national team mates recognise her as a master strategist and tactician on and off the court. Tsukamoto was National Team Captain and served as a member of Japan’s High-Performance Committee.

Tsukamoto is much more than a venerable player. Her desire to make the Japanese women’s team a world power resulted in the magnificent growth of the game among women in Japan. She proved to women around the world that disability is no barrier to a women’s ability to excel in all areas of life. She has inspired and nurtured many Japanese women. She founded Japanese teams Wing in 1985 and Elfin in 1997. She leads by her exemplary lifestyle. Many Japanese club players and national team players credit Tsukamoto with inspiring them to become better wheelchair basketball players, parents, citizens and people.

Hans Tukker (The Netherlands) - Administrator

Hans Tukker, former coach of The Netherlands club team SC Antilope, was the founding member of the European Club Competition (now known as Euro League) in 1975.  He was also the first President of the IWBF European Zone which was founded in 1991.

Tukker was awarded the Gold Medal Triad in 2002.

Rob Verheuvel (The Netherlands) - Coach

Rob Verheuvel was awarded the IWBF Gold Medal Triad in 2004 for his contribution to the growth and development of wheelchair basketball on both the national and international stage.

He was coach of The Netherlands national team for 25 years, between 1972 and 2002, during which he won four silver medals from seven Paralympic Games and one gold in Barcelona in 1992.

Verheuvel has also been awarded the Nederlands Basketball Bond pin and has been named Member of Merit of the Dutch Basketball Association, for all his work within the sport. To emphasize the appreciation for everything he has done, the NBB named an award after him: the Rob Verheuvel Award, the first award was naturally awarded to Verheuvel in 2003.

Ben Klerks (The Netherlands) - Player & Coach
Sandy Blythe (Australia) - Player

Robert Alexander “Sandy” Blythe was one of Australia’s best wheelchair basketball players. He was part of the Australia men’s national wheelchair basketball team at the Paralympic Games in 1988 Seoul, 1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta, and 2000 Sydney. At the 1996 Atlanta Games, Blythe captained the Australian men’s team to Gold, and was co-captain alongside Priya Cooper of the Australian Paralympic team at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Blythe received a Medal of the Order of Australia in 1997 for his 1996 gold medal. In 2000, he received an Australian Sports Medal. The Sandy Blythe Medal, awarded to the best player of the year in the Australia men’s national wheelchair basketball team, is named in his honour. In 2010, he was posthumously inducted into the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame.

Blythe was awarded the IWBF Gol Medal Triad Award posthumously in 2006, following his passing in 2005.

Maurice Schoenacker (France) - Player, Coach & Administrator
Trien Dinh (France) - Administrator
Greg Love (Australia) - Administrator

Greg Love is one of Australian basketball’s unsung heroes. In 1958, at the age of 17, he began a 42-year career as a referee that encompassed both able-bodied and wheelchair basketball. During that time, he controlled 20 National Championship games in various divisions, as well as a number of men’s and women’s Australian Club Championships. He was a senior referee in both the NBL and WNBL in the founding days of those leagues.

From 1985, Love also directed his energies towards wheelchair basketball, controlling three Gold medal matches as well as serving as Senior Referee at the 1998 Gold Cup (World Championships) and 2000 Paralympic Games, both held in Sydney. He has served as Vice-President of the IWBF (International Wheelchair Basketball Federation) and the Secretary-General of the IWBF Asia-Oceania Zone. He is a Life Member of Australia’s National Wheelchair Basketball League.

Love was awarded the IWBF Gold Medal Triad in 2011.

Jan Berteling (The Netherlands) - Administrator

Jan Berteling played a major part in the development of wheelchair basketball, with his broad governing experience in basketball, his connections in FIBA and his huge international network he helped IWBF establish wheelchair basketball as the most popular team sport for the disabled.

Berteling was awarded the IWBF Gold Medal Triad in 2014, for the great way in which he has contributed to the growth of wheelchair basketball, both in the Netherlands and internationally. Berteling was one of the first to realize that wheelchair basketball and basketball belong together. He brought wheelchair basketball to the Netherlands Basketball Federation (NBB) before anyone else had thought about it.

In 1999, Berteling was elected as President of IWBF Europe. In 2015, he decided to step down, after many years of excellent service to wheelchair basketball and to the European federations and clubs in particular. For his work in the European Zone, Berteling, was awarded an IWBF Europe Honorary Membership in 2015.

 

Ron Coppenrath (The Netherlands) - Player & Administrator

 

Ron was a valued member of the wheelchair basketball world for many years.  An IWBF Gold Triad Awardee, Ron volunteered years of dedication and work to wheelchair basketball both nationally and internationally.

Internationally Ron had been an active Secretary General of IWBF Europe where he was part of the organisation of a number of European Championships and European Cup tournaments. He was also an influential figure on the world stage as a member of the IWBF Executive Committee.

Ron took on the role as Chairman of the Competitions Committee for 12 years between 2002 -2014, leading on the administration of World Championships and the Paralympic Games wheelchair basketball competition. On a national level, he was instrumental in his own club as well as a representative of wheelchair basketball at the NBB General Assembly.

For his international commitment, IWBF awarded Ron Coppenrath the IWBF Gold Medal Triad Award in 2015.

Steve Spilka (Great Britain) - Player, Coach & Administrator

Steve Spilka has been acknowledged as one of the greatest drivers within wheelchair basketball in the UK and was instrumental in the establishment of the British Wheelchair Basketball office, securing lottery funding for the national men’s programme in 1997 and has shaped the modern governance of the sport in the UK.

Spilka has been involved with the development of wheelchair basketball since the 1990’s and has used his knowledge to serve the International Federation as treasurer and as part of the Technical Commission.

Spilka received the IWBF’s Gold Medal Triad award in 2014 for his outstanding contribution to the growth of wheelchair basketball on an international level.

Ricardo Moreno (Spain) - Referee & Administrator