International athletes give their thoughts on the Tokyo pool groups

The pool groups have been announced for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Rollt.’s Dylan Cummings spoke to several international athletes from around the world to get their thoughts on the pool groups.


Terry Bywater (GBR M) “Pool B has to be one of the most difficult groups I have ever seen. The teams that finished 1, 2, 3 and 4 at the World Championships are all in Pool B. It will be a challenge in itself for all teams involved to progress from that group but if you want to become Paralympic champions then you must be at your best from game one. As always we will take it game by game and we are very excited about the challenge facing us.”


Mariska Beijer (NED W) “I think we have a pool group with potential and unknowns. With China being the main X Factor. Personally it doesn’t matter who is in the group, we have to play our own basketball and show everyone what we are capable of.”


Ismail Ar (TUR M) “All the teams in Tokyo are great teams. Even though our group does not draw attention as much as the other group, I think the matches we will play in the crossovers will be as good as the final.”


Arinn Young (CAN W) “I feel really good about the pools, having them announced right now just bumped up everyone’s motivation even more. I am looking forward to Tokyo and all the hard games!”


Ignacio Ortega (ESP M) “Our group seems a bit more manageable than group B. Of course it’s the Paralympics and every team brings their game, so we expect every team to come out very strong, and so will we.”


Rose Hollermann (USA W) “The pools being out is so exciting for the entire wheelchair basketball community because it brings us one step closer to the games! Our pool has some really tough competitors in Netherlands and China. Both of these teams placed high at the last World Championships and as the reigning World Champs the Netherlands are the favorite for Gold. I personally was excited to see the Spanish National team in our pool as I am currently playing in Spain so I know some of the players. I also take great pride in playing against the Algeria Women’s team and was so happy to see that we’ll get that opportunity again. Our pool will be challenging and every step of the way will be challenging. But that will make the pursuit towards Gold even more valuable for team USA.”


Patrick Anderson (CAN M) “Seeing the pools gave me a nice jolt of energy. One big step closer to Tokyo. Like others, I was surprised to see the top 4 from Worlds in the same pool. But who knows how it’ll play out. We don’t yet know the competitive effect of the IPC/IWBF eligibility fiasco. As far as Canada is concerned, we don’t have the luxury of playing seeding chess. Every matchup presents challenges. Our path to a medal is to battle every game and play great for two weeks.”


Michael Auprince (AUS M) “There’s a saying: ‘Difficult roads often lead to amazing destinations.’ That’s exactly what I thought when I first saw the so called ‘pool of death.’ When you go to a Paralympic Games, it’s to play at the absolute highest level possible. Having the top four countries from the 2018 World Championships as well as a strong German side is going to make the pool games a tough challenge. The Australian team and I welcome that challenge but relish the opportunity to play each of those teams before a potential semifinal or gold medal game.”


Hiroaki Kozai (JPN M) “Now pools are set. I’m so excited about the Paralympics now. We know that all of the teams are good. We are gonna have nothing but tough games anyway. We will just stick with our game plan and just fight till the end no matter who we play against. Cannot wait!”


Men’s Pool A: Canada – Colombia – Japan – South Korea – Spain – Turkey

Men’s Pool B: Algeria – Australia – Germany – Great Britain – Iran – USA

Women’s Pool A: Australia – Canada – Germany – Great Britain – Japan

Women’s Pool B: Algeria – China – Netherlands – Spain – USA


Interview: Dylan Cummings | Photo: Uli Gasper

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