Wheelchair Basketball at the Paralympic Games

Wheelchair Basketball has been with the Paralympic Games right from the get go, since 1960 in Rome. It was first played as an adapted sport for World War II veterans in the USA, in 1946. Most players were former able-bodied athletes who suffered an injury, but wanted to continue playing. Thanks to a simple rule adaptation, and sport variation, wheelchair basketball spread across the US, and then worldwide.

Athletes with a lower body physical impairment and those who are unable to play able-bodied basketball due to a long term permanent injury are eligible to play wheelchair basketball. The game is played in the same size of court and uses the same basket height that features in the Olympic Games. Each game consists of four quarters up to 10 minutes long each.

The aim of the game is to score the most points in the opposition’s bracket, just like in able-bodied basketball. The team with the most points when the clock runs out, wins. Once in possession of the ball, a team has 24 seconds to try and score a basket. Athletes can earn one point for scoring a free throw, two points a normal basket, and three points for a throw from behind the three-point-line arc.

Players must dribble or throw the ball after every two pushes of the wheels to avoid “travelling”. Any player who commits five fouls in one game, must be replaced.

Wheelchair basketball follows group stages format in both the men’s and women’s competition. Then, the top teams from each group advance to the knockout stages, to compete for gold.

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