Tracey Ferguson is about to begin her seventh Paralympic Games and is confident that Canada will be successful in Rio (DAN GALBRAITH/ CANADIAN PARALYMPIC COMMITTEE)

Canada’s women’s wheelchair basketball team in tough competition

Seven-time Paralympian confident her squad is 'focused' and ready for the podium in Rio

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – The battle for Paralympic gold in women’s wheelchair basketball is going to be one of the closest in years, veteran Canadian player Tracey Ferguson says.

“From a competition standpoint, it is probably one of the strongest Paralympic Games on the women’s side, especially with all the equality amongst the teams,” said Ferguson in an interview at the Paralympic Village on the eve of her seventh Paralympic Games. “It is going to be a real battle for the podium.”

After beating Germany for gold in the 2014 world championship, Ferguson and her squad will be heading to the courts as one of the favourites to win it all.

“We are physically talented, we have the pieces and the skills, and we have a great team,” she said. “People are really working together well and I think that is what’s going to lead us to the podium.”

With five of the 12 women on the team attending their first Paralympic Games, Ferguson will be counted on to keep everyone on point.

“It’s real easy at a major Games like this to potentially lose focus or to get distracted,” she said. “It’s just reminding people what we’re here to do and stay focused on our goal and then at the end of the Games just really enjoy those moments and celebrate our achievements.”

Even though Ferguson’s first Paralympic Games was in 1992, the excitement she sees on the faces of her teammates can be highly contagious at times.

“We have talked a lot about what to expect here and they’re just so excited,” she said. “It’s kind of interesting for us because we feed off of their enthusiasm because we are seeing it through fresh eyes.”

Ferguson knows that Canada has what it takes to reach its golden goal.

“Stay focused and reap the rewards at the end.”