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UTSC welcomes Wheelchair Basketball Canada’s new year-round training academy

Patrick Anderson of Team Canada takes on Australia during the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Photo courtesy Wheelchair Basketball Canada

After winning Gold in London last year, Canada intends to continue its wheelchair basketball domination, opening a revolutionary training academy to recruit and train elite athletes for the men’s and women’s teams at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC).

The new academy is financed by the Government of Canada’s Own the Podium program, the Canadian Paralympic Committee and the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario. The academy will open this July in UTSC's current athletics activity, and intends to move into the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre when the new facility opens in September 2014."

“This innovative training program designed to nurture Canadian talent at home is a great fit with UTSC,” says Scott McRoberts, director of athletics and recreation. “We’re thrilled to welcome Wheelchair Basketball Canada to our campus. Our students will gain leadership opportunities through internships, and will be immersed in the team experience.”

UTSC has long been heralded as a leader in providing an accessible university campus.  Providing a home to the academy furthers the Department of Athletics and Recreation’s commitment to supporting equitable programming.

Wheelchair basketball is considered one of the major sports practiced by athletes with a disability; an estimated 100,000 people play the game, from recreation to club play and as elite team members.  There are 82 National Organizations for Wheelchair Basketball around the world and this number grows ever year.  Wheelchair basketball sees tremendous competition and interest on the international level, including the Summer Paralympic Games held every four years, the Pan American Parapan Games every four years, and a Wheelchair Basketball World Championship held every four years.

The Canadian Men and Women’s teams have combined for six gold, one silver, and one bronze at the last six Paralympic Games. They have also been dominant at World Championships capturing a combined 5 gold and 5 bronze medals since 1990. Major competition for both the Men’s and Women’s teams comes from Australia, the United States, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Japan.

The new academy means Canadian talent won’t have to relocate to the U.S. or Europe to play in semi-professional leagues. “This is the single most important thing we can do for the sport,” says Wendy Gittens, executive director of Wheelchair Basketball Canada.

“UTSC provides an ideal location for us to launch this one of kind initiative. We are excited to join a welcoming and positive atmosphere that is conducive to training some of Canada’s future Paralympic and world champions in wheelchair basketball,” says Gittens.  

© University of Toronto Scarborough