Wheelchair Basketball

Wheelchair Basketball

Britain’s wheelchair basketball players head into Rio at the end of a strong four year cycle of preparations.

The men’s team secured their qualification for the 2016 Paralympic Games in stunning fashion the previous year, overcoming the disappointment of finishing 7th at the 2014 World Championships to win their third consecutive European gold (2015, 2013, 2011).

Targeting the medal games in Brazil and working to build upon the bronze achieved in both Athens and Beijing, the men will arrive at Rio 2016 with the aim of bettering the 4th place finish of London 2012.

In London, the men faced a difficult start to their competition, losing their first two matches, but they bounced back to win their remaining three pool games and finish 3rd in their group. Victory against Turkey was followed by a loss to Canada, putting Britain in the bronze medal match against the USA. The American side proved too strong, leaving Britain just outside the medals.

Helen FreemanAt the 2012 Paralympics, the women’s team earned their highest placed finish at a Games in 16 years. Nevertheless, it was a tough tournament for the team who had set themselves an ambitious target of securing their highest-ever ranking on home soil.

With one win and three losses in the group stage, Britain's women faced Germany in the quarter-finals and unfortunately lost out. In their two remaining classification matches the women battled against China in the 5th-8th play offs before securing victory against Mexico to finish in 7th place – one place ahead of the Beijing Games.

As with their male counterparts, the women’s journey to Rio 2016 has also seen medal success within their Paralympic qualification: at the 2015 Europeans, the young team overcame the semi final heartbreak of losing to the reigning champions by a single point to earn their fifth consecutive European bronze medal (2015, 2013, 2011, 2009, 2007) with a win against France.

In addition, 2015 saw the GB Women’s U25 Team crowned U25 World Champions in Beijing, China; whilst, the previous year, the senior team achieved their highest ever finish at a senior World Championship with the team playing their way to 5th place.

  • First year at a Paralympic Games:
  • Rome 1960
  • Brief history:
  • Wheelchair Basketball was first played in the USA when Basketball players, injured during World War II, adapted the running game to wheelchairs
  • Eligible impairment groups:
  • Athletes who have physical impairments that result in a lower limb physical limitation and those who are unable to play non-disabled sport due to a long term permanent injury
  • London medal table:
  • Men
    1 - Canada
    2 - Australia
    3 - USA
    1 - Germany
    2 - Australia
    3 - Netherlands
  • Did you know:
  • The 5th place finish achieved by GB women at the 2014 World Championships was GB's highest ever finish for a women’s team at world level.
    The GB men have won three consecutive European Championships (2015, 2013, 2011).
  • Rio 2016 venue:
  • Rio Olympic Arena, Barra Zone


Played by two teams of five, the rules of the game are broadly similar to those of Olympic Basketball, with the same size court and basket height.

A team has 24 seconds from taking possession of the ball to complete its attempt on the basket. One point is scored for a successful free-throw, two for a normal field basket and three for a shot made from behind the arc of the three-point line.

Players move the ball around the court by passing or dribbling. A dribble is when a player bounces the ball and pushes the chair simultaneously or, places the ball on their lap and takes up to two pushes of the chair, bounces the ball, and then places the ball back on their lap.

Players are required to throw or bounce the ball after every two pushes of the wheels on their chairs to avoid being penalised for ‘travelling’.

Twelve teams compete in group stages in the men’s competition and 10 teams in the women’s, with the top teams qualifying for the knock-out rounds.

Matches consist of four quarters of 10 minutes each.

A player who commits five personal fouls must be replaced in the game by another player.


The Wheelchair Basketball competition at the Paralympic Games is played in wheelchairs and is open to athletes with a permanent physical impairment in the lower limb(s) which can be objectively verified. Impairments may include paraplegia, lower limb amputations, cerebral palsy, and polio. Not all players are daily wheelchair users, so athletes can be ambulant.

Wheelchair Basketball classification is based on the players' functional capacity to complete the skills necessary to play - pushing, pivoting, shooting, rebounding, dribbling, passing and catching.

Players are classified by a points system from 1 to 4.5 – with higher classification numbers representing those with the least physical impairment such as a lower limb permanent injury.

Each squad can consist of up to 12 players, with only five players on the court at any one time. During a match a team must field five players whose cumulative classification does not exceed 14.0 points.


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