Steelers book spot at Paralympic Games

Sat, Mar 23, 2024, 11:18 AM
AAP
by AAP
Australia's wheelchair rugby team are setting their sights on a return to the Paralympic podium after booking their tickets to Paris.
Australia's wheelchair rugby team are setting their sights on a return to the Paralympic podium after booking their tickets to Paris.

Australia's wheelchair rugby team are setting their sights on a return to the Paralympic podium after booking their tickets to Paris.

The Steelers defeated Brazil 62-37 in the semi-final of the Paralympic qualifiers in Wellington, New Zealand, on Saturday to ensure they will be in the French capital come August.  

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The lop-sided victory followed wins over Switzerland, Colombia and Germany earlier this week. 

"We were the highest-ranked team coming in, but in sport anything can happen on any day," Steelers captain Chris Bond said.

"It's just a massive relief to book that ticket to Paris, the fact that we had to come through this qualification process is new for us, it's a different journey. 

"We want to be at the Paralympic Games. We feel like we should be there and we're medal contenders."

Australia - who won Paralympic gold at the 2012 and 2016 Games, and are reigning world champions - will play Canada on Sunday to decide who takes out the tournament.

The Steelers finished fourth at the Paralympics in Tokyo in 2021 - the first time Australia had missed out on the podium since 2004 - and that disappointment is sure to fuel their motivation later this year. 

"It's an unreal feeling," said Ryley Batt, who is set to participate in his sixth Paralympics. 

"It hasn't sunk in yet because there is one more game to go in this tournament, but knowing we have definitely secured that ticket to Paris is something special." 

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