Five medal-winning teams, all of them coming off memorable performances in the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Paralympic Games, are up for Team of the Paralympic Games, presented by Dow.
It’s your time to vote.
Let’s take a closer look at the amazing achievements of the five teams nominated for the award.
Then, to cast your vote, go to: www.TeamUSA.org/awards. Voting ends at 5 p.m. ET on Friday.
Voting for Best of the Paralympic Games is also being held for best female athlete and best male athlete. Winners will be announced at the Team USA Awards, presented by Dow, later this month in Washington, D.C.
Men’s Goalball Team
Rio Accomplishments: Team USA won a silver medal and defeated host Brazil 10-1 in the semifinal round in front of a home country crowd.
Why it Mattered: The U.S. men’s goalball team medaled four years after it failed to qualify for the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The silver medal was its first Paralympic medal since 2004.
Fun Fact: Team member Matt Simpson is a membership and outreach coordinator for the United States Association of Blind Athletes and he was a tournament coordinator for the 2015 IBSA World Youth Championships in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
What’s Next: Winning a medal in Rio qualifies the U.S. team for the 2018 IBSA World Championships in Malmo, Sweden. The tournament is a qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Women’s Sitting Volleyball Team
Rio Accomplishments: Team USA defeated China 25-12, 25-12, 25-18, finishing off a 4-1 run at the Paralympic Games to win the gold medal.
Why it Mattered: The U.S. women won a gold medal in sitting volleyball for the first time in the Paralympic Games. Team USA had lost the championship match to win silver medals in the previous two Paralympic Games.
Fun Fact: Since the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, Team USA and China had played in five tournament finals, with China winning four of them. Team USA defeated China in the title game of this year’s World ParaVolley Intercontinental Cup and then the Paralympic Games.
What’s Next: After returning home to celebrate winning their gold medals, the team will re-unite with training at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team
Rio Accomplishments: Team USA defeated Spain 68-52 in the gold-medal game to finish off an unbeaten run in the tournament. Jake Williams scored a team-best 20 points in the title game.
Why it Mattered: The gold-medal run marked the first Paralympic title for Team USA in men‘s wheelchair basketball since 1988. It was the nation’s eighth gold medal in Paralympic Games history, and built upon an undefeated streak that dates back to 2014.
Fun Fact: The men’s victory in the championship game completed a first-ever Team USA men’s and women’s sweep of wheelchair basketball at the Paralympic Games and men’s and women’s basketball at the Olympic Games.
What’s Next: Team members returned home with a mission of spreading the word of wheelchair basketball and hoping to successfully defend their gold medal in 2020 in Tokyo.
Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team
Rio Accomplishments: The U.S. women’s wheelchair basketball team claimed back the gold medal, defeating 2012 Paralympic Games champion Germany 62-45 in the championship game.
Why it Mattered: Team USA won the gold medal in women’s wheelchair basketball for the third time in four Paralympic Games. It now has a record eight medals, one more than Germany.
Fun Fact: The U.S. women’s team went unbeaten through the Paralympics Games for the third time.
What’s Next: Coach Stephanie Wheeler, a two-time Paralympic gold medalist as a player in 2004 and 2008, hopes the team’s win will help grow the Paralympic movement.
Wheelchair Rugby Team
Rio Accomplishments: The U.S. wheelchair rugby team won the silver medal, but not before it took 2012 Paralympic champion Australia to double overtime in the final game.
Why it Mattered: Team USA continued its run of Paralympic medals dating back to the debut of wheelchair rugby at the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games. Team USA won the gold medal in Sydney, and now has also two gold, a silver and two bronze medals.
Fun Fact: Chuck Aoki, who scored 111 goals for Team USA in Rio, and won his first gold medal in the 2010 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships, is a blogger for the International Paralympic Committee.
What’s Next: The team returns to the Lakeshore Foundation in the Birmingham, Alabama metro area, which is its training home. Lakeshore is the High Performance Management Organization for USA Wheelchair Rugby.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1990. He is Olympics editor and Assistant Sports Editor at the Cape Cod Times in Massachusetts. Bowker has written for TeamUSA.org since 2010 as a freelance contributor on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.