RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — The friendly and mindful nature of Canada’s wheelchair basketball squads have won over the Brazilian crowds.
Following a 68-54 loss to Germany on Sunday morning, the women’s’ first of this tournament, they flashed a banner that has become a tradition, for both the men and women, here in Rio, and it simply reads ‘obrigada Brazil’.
As a nation Canada is often referred to as one of the more friendly and polite countries in the world and these player aren’t going to change that ideal.
“I think we have won a few fans with the banner,” said Janet McLachlan, one of the team captains, after the loss. “Our organization was responsible for that and we actually got as many of Team Canada … all the sports … to sign it as we possibly could.
“It says thank you Brazil and it’s true, I mean they put this on for us and I know there has been a lot of skepticism and negativity surrounding the game, but we’re here and it’s fantastic.
“We do owe a huge thank you to Brazil.”
McLachlan a three-time paralympian, isn’t the only member of her team to be thankful, and a little surprised at the incredible reception they have received. The excitement and support of her home country isn’t lost on Katie Harnock, also a three-time paralympian.
“People generally like Canadians, I guess,” she said, about hearing the crowd chant Canada following their game. “They’ve been great for us from the very, very first game.
“I’m a little bit surprised, I mean they were chanting Canada in there which was absolutely amazing.”
The two veterans are also part of a squad that constantly and unabashedly vocalizes its support for each other in game. Both were quick to show the host nation more love for helping them keep the energy up, but admit that it was also something they worked hard to accomplish.
“I think we are really just mindful of the kind of atmosphere that can be created here and how we can use it,” Harnock said. “I mean you hear the fans out there going absolutely nuts.
“It’s been great so far we’ve used that through our bench and get it out onto the court, and help the girls out there get a bit more energy.”
Both the Canadians and the Germans are medal threats and either of them could leave Rio with a gold medal.
There is one round robin game left in the women’s tournament, on Monday, before the elimination games begin.