Monday, August 3, 2015

Getting There: The History of the Parapan American Games

August 3, 2015

The first Parapan American Games was held in November 1999 in Mexico City and had 1,000 athletes participate from 18 countries in four different sports. Following the Games in 1999, the Parapan Am Games became a qualifying event for the Sydney, Australia, Paralymic Games in 2000.

With that in mind, athletes knew there was a lot at stake at the Parapan American Games.
Four years later in 2013, the Parapan Am Games were held in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Due to the great success at the 1999 Games in Mexico City, there were 1,500 athletes from 28 countries participating in nine sports. Not only did the number of athletes grow by 500 participants, but ten additional countries joined the Parapan Am Games.

In 2007 the Games were held in Rio and were considered a great success. The Games were a milestone in the Paralympic Movement because it was the first Parapan Am Games to be held in the same host city as the Pan Am Games, as well as sharing the same Organizing committee.

In 2011 the Games were held in Guadalajara and had 1,300 athletes from 26 countries competing in 13 sports. Fast forward to 2015, the Toronto Parapan Am Games will be the largest Games ever. There Toronto Games will host 1,608 athletes from 28 countries competing in 15 sports. The Games will begin on Friday August 7th, 2015 and will close on Saturday August 15, 2015.

Wheelchair Basketball
To ensure fair competition between teams, there is an athlete classification system. The classification system for physical impairment in wheelchair basketball has eight classes, beginning with 1.0 to 4.5 points. Each player in wheelchair basketball has an impairment that affects their legs and feet, however most have normal arm function. Each team is only allowed to have 14 points on the field of play between 5 players at the same time.

The classification system is as follows:
1.0: The most significant activity limitation. Athletes have no trunk control and cannot bend forward, sideways, or rotate to catch and pass the ball. Athletes maintain postural control by being strapped to the wheelchair during the Games.
2.0: Athletes can lean forward and rotate their body to some extent, which allows them to rotate their trunk to catch the ball. Their wheelchairs are adapted by having a higher backrest and strapping for greater trunk support.
3.0: Athletes classified as 3.0 have the ability to fully rotate and lean forward, but they are unable to lean to the sides.
4.0: Players with a 4.0 have similar abilities as those with 3.0, however they can also partially lean to the sides.
4.5: Athletes classified as 4.5 have the least eligible impairment and no restriction in trunk rotation, leaning forward or sideways. Athletes can also be classified as 1.5, 2.5, or 3.5 to allow for the best classification fit for the individual.

Wheelchair Basketball Rules
Wheelchair basketball rules are similar to the rules of able-bodied basketball players. The ball is moved across the court by passing or dribbling the ball, however athletes must bounce or throw the ball following two wheel pushes in order to keep possession of the ball and prevent a traveling violation. The size of the court in wheelchair basketball is the same as a able-bodied basketball game, as well as the height of the net. Wheelchair basketball is open to all athletes with physical disabilities that prevent them from running, pivoting, or jumping. It is widely believed that wheelchair basketball players use a wheelchair in their daily life, however this is untrue. Not all athletes who play wheelchair basketball use a wheelchair in their activities of daily living.

Points are earned in wheelchair basketball by throwing the ball into the opponents net. Depending on where on the court the ball is thrown from, one, two or three points are awarded per goal. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

The wheelchair basketball schedule kicks off this Saturday August 8th, at 8am where the men's team from Mexico takes on Argentina! The U.S.A men's wheelchair basketball team plays at 4:15pm vs. Colombia; and the Canadian women's team takes on Guatemala at 6:30pm, followed by the Canadian men's team at 8:45pm vs. Venezuela! 

--Seteena Ueberschlag

The College of Education Toronto 2015 team (L-R):Sarah Kent, Lily Simmons, Jordyn Underwood, Emily Rabalais, Prof. Anita Moorman, Ms. Elizabeth Ledford, Alicia Peterson, Prof. Gin Presley, Michaela Clay, Rebecca Legenza, Aubrey Moore, Gasrrett Nugent, Ms. Jessica Gibb, and Brittany Mebust.

En route: Our CEHD team sharing a group selfie from the plane.

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