Wheelchair basketball players hoping to represent Team USA in Rio

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Olympic Training Center is hosting the 2016 Rio Paralympic Wheelchair Basketball Selection Camp.

With the 2016 Rio Paralympics about nine months away, competitors from across the country are looking to make the cut for Team USA.

Wheelchair basketball is the oldest and largest disabled sport in the world. When it comes down to making Team USA, there are several things the coaches are looking for.

“What we are looking for individuals fundamental skills, good team concepts, guys who are going to be good teammates, willing to learn, able to learn, and able to coached,” Ron Lykins, Head Coach for Team USA, said.

These tryouts test the players’ speed, strength, power, and basketball skills, and even though some of the athletes have been playing for many years, they still get nervous during tryouts.

“Once you get playing you forget all that and just focus on the game,” player Steve Serio said.

With wheelchairs clashing together, moving down the court at fast speeds, the players enjoy the physical challenges as well as the team aspect this sport offers.

“I love working with other players, I love developing team chemistry and I love everyone’s faces when we win. There is no other feeling like it,” Serio said.

These Team USA hopefuls have committed their lives to this sport, dedicating even more time off the court trying to maintain their bodies.

“Some doing a lot of cardio and weight work off the court and a lot of the time is devoted to specific chair skills in your chair and really trying to push yourself to the next level,” player Michael Paye said.

Team USA brought home the bronze medal in the London games in 2012, and they’re looking to bring home some new hardware this summer.

“Win gold, win every game,” Lykins said.

The tryouts run until Wednesday, where they will cut the roster down to 16. Then in June they will decide the final 12 to represent Team USA in the Paralympic games in Rio.

The Paralympic games will take place September 7-18.

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