Team USA Goes Undefeated In Winning World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge

By Karen Price | Oct. 20, 2019, 2:07 p.m. (ET)

Joe Delagrave shooting during a wheelchair rugby match against Brazil at the Parapan American Games Lima 2019 on Aug. 24, 2019 in Lima, Peru.

 

Nearly two months ago, the U.S. wheelchair rugby team locked down its spot at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 with a win over Canada for the gold medal at the Parapan American Games.

On Sunday, they added World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge champions to their list of 2019 accomplishments. Held every four years, the U.S. took second at the inaugural tournament in 2015 after falling to Canada in the title matchup.

This year, playing in Tokyo, Japan, they opened against Canada and came away with a 59-46 win to start things off in good position. Two-time Paralympian Chuck Aoki led the team with 21 points and 2016 Paralympian Josh Wheeler had 19.

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Day 2 saw the U.S. take on New Zealand and come away with a 60-40 victory to bump its record to 2-0 and set up a battle against reigning Paralympic gold medalists and world No. 1 Australia for the top spot in Pool B on day three. The U.S. came away with the win, but at 55-51 it was close. Aoki had 17 points, while Wheeler and 2012 Paralympian Joe Delagrave each had 12.

Facing Great Britain in the semifinal, the U.S. squeaked out another victory, 49-48, led by Aoki with 21 points, Wheeler with 12 and Delagrave with 11.

That landed the U.S. in the gold-medal game for a rematch against Australia, which the U.S. won, 59-51, for the title.

The World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge is being held in conjunction with the Rugby World Cup, which runs Sept. 20 to Nov. 2.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic & Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.