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Paralympic Guide to the Events

Wheelchair Basketball- The rules of wheelchair basketball are broadly similar to basketball. The court is the same size, the basket is at the same height and the scoring is identical: two points for a regular shot from open play, one point for each successful free throw and three points for a shot from distance (6.75m or more from the basket). Players move the ball around the court by passing or dribbling and are required to throw or bounce the ball after every two pushes of the wheels on their chairs to avoid being penalized for travelling.

Wheelchair Fencing- Wheelchair fencing is a fast-moving battle of tactics and technique. Athletes compete in wheelchairs that are fixed into a frame fastened to the floor. This gives them freedom of movement in their upper bodies, while keeping them secure in their chairs. Fencing takes place on a piste measuring 4m x 1.5m. Preparations for each match begin with the fixing of the wheelchairs at a 110-degree angle relative to the centre line in the frames of the piste. The distance between the two fencers is determined by the athlete with the shorter arm reach, who decides if the distance between competitors will be set at the length of their opponent's reach or their own. Wheelchair fencers wear protective gear including masks, jackets, breeches and gloves. They also use the same electronic scoring system as in Olympic Fencing. The rules are based on those of the International Fencing Federation (FIE) with amendments appropriate to the needs of the wheelchair fencers. Athletes are divided into two categories (A and B) depending on their functional ability.

Wheelchair Rugby- The aim of the game is for each team of four players to carry the ball over their opponent's try line. For this to count, two wheels of the chair must cross the line and the athlete must be in control of the ball, which may be held in their lap. From when they gain possession, a team has just 40 seconds to score a try. Players can pass or roll the ball in any direction but kicking it is not allowed. They must dribble or pass the ball to another player at least once every 10 seconds, making time management an important tactical aspect.

Wheelchair rugby is played on a 28m x 15m court. The court is divided into two halves, with a centre circle and a try line at each end. A match consists of four eight-minute quarters, with the clock stopped every time there is a stoppage in play. In the event of a tie, extra periods of three minutes are played until the tie is broken.

Contact between wheelchairs is permitted, and is in fact an integral part of the sport as players use their chairs to block and hold opponents.

Wheelchair Tennis- Wheelchair tennis was invented in 1976 by American Brad Parks, who had been experimenting with tennis as a recreational therapy after he was injured while skiing. It follows the rules of tennis with one key exception: the ball is allowed to bounce twice, and only the first bounce must be within the boundaries of the court. All matches are played over the best of three sets.

Wheelchair Table Tennis- Table tennis is played enthusiastically throughout the world and has been part of the Paralympic program since the first Games at Rome 1960 when wheelchair athletes competed. Events for standing players were first included at the Toronto 1976 Games. Table tennis only became an Olympic sport at Seoul 1988, so the Paralympic equivalent has a longer history.

Rallies unfold at high speed, with smashes exceeding 100km per hour and players returning the ball with incredible accuracy.

The basic rules regarding equipment, match process and points scoring are almost identical to those used in the Olympic Games, with special rules regarding the ball toss part of the serve in some classes. Matches are played as the best of five sets with 11 points in each set.


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