Athlete on the Canadian Wheelchair Basketball team practices at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto, Ontario on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

Canadian men in wheelchair basketball contention

Canada's wheelchair basketball team warm up for coming Parapan Am Games

The sound of clashing metal and the smell of burning rubber filled the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto, last week, as members of Canada’s Wheelchair Basketball Team joined the 2015 Americas wheelchair basketball challenge. David Eng is co-captain of the Canadian team.

“It’s the first time that we actually have the top 12 guys of our program together, being able to compete together against the teams that we are going to face in the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games,” Eng said.

Canada’s wheelchair basketball team played five games against their America’s zone rivals Argentina, Brazil and the USA in this warm up tournament. It offered individuals a sneak peek at the top competitors gearing up for the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games.

“To be able to prepare, not only on court, but to see how we’re going to prepare before and after the games, to get ready for the main event which will be the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am games … is a really important tournament,” he said.

The Canadian wheelchair basketball team must finish in the top two spots at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games in August in order to qualify for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Team Canada is considered a powerhouse in many of the sports that will be contested in August. In wheelchair basketball, Canada’s women’s team won the 2014 world championship in Toronto, while Canada’s men team won the gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

“I’ve been on multiple gold metal teams with team Canada in the past,” Eng said. “I’ve been playing for 26 years. We have a really young team, (so) being able to … lead the way to the young guys … just to be able to transfer that to them and show them that experience … shows the new generation how to continue that legacy.”

It will be the fifth edition of the Parapan Am Games this summer, with more than 1,600 athletes from 28 countries competing in 15 sports.

“Being able … to compete on home soil here in Canada for the Parapan Am Games is going to be amazing. It’s really rare that we have a chance to play in Canada, to compete in Canada at this level,” Eng said.