Wheelchair basketball comes to TRU

Wheelchair athletes compete in basketball tournament and explore new sports

The Bulldogs, a Kamloops wheelchair basketball team, was undefeated in a tournament on the weekend of Jan. 10 at the TRU gym. The Bulldogs, a team under the Kamloops Adapted Sports Association, won all their games over the weekend against two Vancouver teams, the Cable Cars and the Classics, and a Kelowna team, Okanagan Thunder. It was a close win against Kelowna, with a final score of 41-40 on Sunday.

There was also a multi-sport event held with the tournament where everyone was encouraged to attend and try various wheelchair sports like rugby, tennis and adaptive golf, but no one attended the event.

Tristan Smyth, interior regional co-ordinator for the BC Wheelchair Sports Association, was running the event and said he wasn’t disappointed by the lack of attendance. It was his first time running the event and he hopes to promote it more next year.

img 2 (2) “There’s the demographic that plays wheelchair sports and then there’s the demographic group that stays home and doesn’t really know what to do with themselves. We’re trying to find the people that we haven’t reached out to yet,” Smyth said.

Stu Wymer, a Bulldogs player, explained that wheelchair basketball is similar to regular basketball, with some differences regarding travelling.

“Any wheel input, break, push, stop, you have to dribble the ball once,” he said.

“I got hurt in 2007 and the following year, 2008, I met Tyler Tingle and he was running the Kamloops Bulldogs and we’ve been coming ever since,” Wymer said.

Wymer is very involved in adaptive sports in Kamloops. He plays tennis, rugby, sledge hockey and curling. He will also be ice racing every Sunday for the next six weeks.

Athletes attending the basketball tournament had the chance to try out adaptive track and field chairs, and equipment that was brought by Oleg Bondarchuk, head coach of Kamloops Track and Field. Bondarchuk has recently created a wheelchair track and field team, which is due to start practising within the next two weeks.

“Each athlete, he’s very individual. Each injury, each disability is very individual. Everything that we coach in the regular track and field, it’s already been coached and everybody knows the techniques. But here it’s something really new and very exciting,” Bondarchuk said.

Bondarchuk is waiting for a new wheelchair to arrive that will be used for adaptive javelin, shot put and discus. He plans on getting more racing chairs for athletes to train for 100, 200 and 400-metre races.

“You never know, maybe you could become the next Olympian,” Bondarchuk said.