Wheelchair Basketball

Wheelchair Basketball

Britain's Wheelchair Basketball players went into London 2012 with high hopes, but the teams faced stiff opposition.

The men's team went into London targeting a medal, following two consecutive bronze medals at the last two Games. Preparations over the four year cycle had gone well: the men won the 2009 European Championships bronze and 2011 European gold but were disappointed with their performance at the 2010 Worlds where they finished 5th.

The men had also had a succesful run at the annual BT Paralympic World Cup. In 2009, the GB men won bronze and they built on this performance in 2010 to win gold. They also secured bronze in 2011 and silver in 2012.

The men faced a difficult start to their competition in London, 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 in 4th.

Helen FreemanThe women's team also faced challenges. In Beijing the team finished 8th after being drawn in a ‘group of death’ with Australia, Germany and the USA in the group stages. The team subsequently invested in young talent early in the four year cycle, and this soon translated into postitive results. The women won bronze at the 2009 European Championships and went on to finish 6th at the 2010 World Championships, their highest world ranking for several years.

Performances at the annual BT Paralympic World Cup were consistent: the team finished 4th at the 2009, 2010 and 2012 events but won gold in 2011.

Going into London, the women 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 unfortuantely lost out. In their two remaining classification matches the women battled against China and then Mexico, and victory against the Mexican side ensured Britain finished in 7th place - their best placed finish at a Paralympic Games in 16 years.

  • 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 6th place finish achieved by GB women at the World Championships was GB's highest ever finish for a women’s team at world level.
    The GB men’s teams nickname is  “The Bulldogs”.
  • London 2012 venue:
  • North Greenwich Arena and the Basketball Arena
  • 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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