Victory over Brazil puts Canada in wheelchair rugby final at Parapan Am Games

Canadian Paralympic Committee

November 22, 2023

Will face the USA for gold and Paralympic Games spot

Day 5, Wheelchair rugby mixed semifinals

SANTIAGO – Canada defeated Brazil 60-45 on Wednesday to advance to the gold medal game in wheelchair rugby at the 2023 Parapan American Games.

The victory sets up a classic battle between Canada and the U.S., not only for the Games gold, but also a berth at the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris.

‘’Our rivalry never gets old,’’ said four-time Paralympian Travis Murao of Toronto, who set the tone for Canada. He scored the team’s first two tries and four of his five tries in the opening five minutes. ‘’This is why we keep playing this game year after year: to get those big match-ups.

‘’It’s going to be exciting.’’

Matt Debly of Windsor, Ont. led the Canadians with 15 points and Rio Kanda Kovac of Toronto added 11. Both are at their first major Games. Canada’s scoring machine Zak Madell of Okotoks, Alta. only played the first quarter scoring nine points.

The Canadians didn’t waste any time taking control of the match leading 17-12 after the first and 30-20 at the half to put the game out of reach.

‘’A team like Brazil is a momentum team, we didn’t want to give them any ground to work with, so a big start was key for us,’’ said Murao. ‘’I thought we did that well and we want to carry that momentum into the final.’’

Canada’s head coach Patrick Côté was particularly pleased his team didn’t turn the ball over once.

‘’We’d been flirting all week with that and now we got it,’’ he said. ‘’When you consider we only played Zak for eight minutes it’s a hug accomplishment and great teamwork by the players.’’

For the third straight Games, the U.S. and Canada will meet in the final for the gold medal and a berth at the Paralympic Games. In 2019, the Americans defeated Canada to get an early ticket for Tokyo (the Canadians qualified later at a last chance tournament). The sport made its Parapan Am debut in 2015 with the Canadians victorious.

In the other semifinal final Wednesday the Americans defeated Colombia 52-45.

The championship game is set for 7 p.m. local / 5p.m. ET on Thursday on CBC and Radio-Canada’s streaming platforms.

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