Canada defeats world number-one USA in wheelchair rugby at Parapan American Games

Canadian Paralympic Committee

November 21, 2023

Canadians roll into semifinals undefeated

Zak Madell 2023

SANTIAGO – Zak Madell scored 30 points to lead Canada to a 46-41 victory over the United States, the number-one ranked country in the world, Tuesday to conclude its preliminary round undefeated at the Parapan American Games.

Both countries are heavily favoured to meet again in the championship final on Thursday however there are still the semifinals on Wednesday. The winner of the tournament gets a ticket to the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris.

‘’The last quarter was our best quarter of the tournament,’’ said Madell, from Okotoks, Alta., one of the sport’s biggest stars who played all 32 minutes of the match. ‘’We’re a grinding team so we knew if we toughed it out in that first half and we kept on them the turnovers would start to come.’’

Cody Caldwell added five points while Mike Whitehead and Trevor Hirschfield added three each.

The Americans were first to grab a two point lead with a little over five minutes to go in the half, but Canada, ranked fifth internationally, immediately responded with consecutive tries by Madell to tie it all up again. The Canadians took their first lead with over two minutes remaining in the second quarter on tries by rookie Kanda Kovac and Madell to put Canada up 21-20.

Canada would never relinquish the lead again and with two minutes remaining in the game were up by six on tries by Whitehead and Madell.

‘’The U.S. is a great team and if you’re not coming in focused they’ll roll over you,’’ said Hirschfield, the Canadian team captain, from Parksville, B.C. ‘’We came out, followed our game plan and we were ready. We saw what’s working, where we had successes, and we got a bunch of different guys on the court.

‘’We’re going to take a lot from this game.’’

Canada’s head coach Patrick Côté was delighted with the performance.

‘’It was your typical tightly contested U.S.-Canada match,’’ he said. ‘’The first half was very close with no mistakes. We used our timeouts well and once our defence put the pressure on they started to crack, and it opened up.

‘’A true team win. I’m really proud.’’

Canada finishes the preliminaries at 5-0 posting wins over Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and the U.S. The Americans were 4-1. The final preliminary matches were held later Tuesday evening.

Can Crew Newsletter

Receive the latest news, athlete stories, and behind-the-scenes access directly to your inbox.

"*" indicates required fields