The tough guys

Our Paralympics blogger Jo Healy experiences the thrills and spills - not to mention the violence - of the wheelchair rugby semi-finals, before heading off for the more genteel drama of the basketball

Last Updated: 08/09/12 7:55pm

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Ryley Batt helped Australia to victory over Japan in the Mixed Wheelchair Rugby Open semi-finals

Ryley Batt helped Australia to victory over Japan in the Mixed Wheelchair Rugby Open semi-finals

Bang, crash, bash, boom. That pretty much sums up my day - I was at the wheelchair rugby for the men's semi-final between Australia and Japan.

The basketball arena at Olympic Park filled up very quickly, everyone rushing to see the game that used to be called Murderball. Let's face it, anything with a name like that is going to be action packed and entertaining.

Being there live it was easier to see the level of detail on the pimped out wheelchairs.

The defensive specific players have additional length on the front of their chairs to help stop the attackers. It is made of thick solid wires, and looks a bit like teeth on the front of their wheelchairs. Fitting for such a hard-hitting contact sport.

I was able to pick out the game plan and tactics of the teams on court. Both were fighting to congest the opposing players and slow down the ball. Once a player was able to generate speed it was very difficult to stop them from scoring - although they did try, and that's where the serious hits came into play and I could feel the contact in my gut.

The whole arena gasped. Australia executed their game plan much better than Japan and were too fast in attack, booking a place in the final with 59-45 win.

The atmosphere was great. The music in the arena really got the crowds going and they were more than willing to clap and sing along. Michael Jackson's Bad came on whenever a player was sent to the sin bin for committing a foul. I loved the humour of it. Each time it happened you could hear the murmuring chuckles form the crowd.

I am originally from Australia so had a slight bias towards the Aussies. I have been in the UK for five years and represented Great Britain at volleyball for four years, so I feel a lot of pride when I hear God Save the Queen.

Emotion

I hadn't actually sung Advance Australia Fair for long time, and felt a huge rush of emotion when it played throughout the arena. Sing loud, sing proud.

I made my way over to the North Greenwich Arena for the playoffs of the wheelchair basketball. Spain was up against Germany in a really hard fought game. It was scrappy, but that meant more entertainment for the crowd as the players scrambled to keep possession. Bang, crash, bash, boom.

Spain led for most of the game. The crowd was constantly on the edge of their seats as Germany managed to get within four points before Spain would extend their lead once more.

They managed to step away in the fourth quarter, finishing the match 67-48 as the colourful Spanish crowds waving their flags created a sea of red and yellow in the stands.

In between the third and fourth quarter the crowd were asked to do their best air guitar when the camera had them in focus. When it was announced I thought it was actually a good idea, as the crowds always love to see themselves on the big screen. The problem was the music track used was a soppy love song, so of course no one wanted to air guitar to such a slow moving song. Next time maybe.

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