The wheelchair rugby finals at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre on Thursday featured big hits and intense action from four stellar teams.
Fighting for top honours, Team UK faced off against Team Denmark. This was Denmark’s second trip to the wheelchair rugby finals in two years, having lost gold to Team USA at the Orlando 2016 Invictus Games.
In front of a sold-out crowd, which included Prince Harry, Denmark pulled away with a 23–18 win to capture gold.
Maurice Manuel was ecstatic when his team won gold, and proud of the effort they showed throughout the Games, including some key blocks by the team captain.
“We made plans on how we were going to tackle the game,” said Maurice. “I was focused on my role, and being given the gold medal by Prince Harry was so special to me.”
Team UK competitor Martin Tye felt his team had played hard, but that Denmark was ultimately the better team.
“It was a very hard battle and everyone put their all into it,” Martin said. “All teams had very high standards, and our players put everything into it tonight.”
Defending champions Team USA, who lost to Team Denmark in the semifinals on Wednesday, faced Team Australia for the bronze. Team USA came out the victor with a score of 23–18, the same score as in the gold-medal match.
Jeff Wright, captain of the Australian team, felt losing to the United States was a real privilege. For his team of novices, it was the first time they had competed at the Invictus Games.
“We changed our strategy all tournament,” said Jeff. “We tried to target the number-one player on the United States team, to put them off their game. After our technical change of plans, I think we executed it really well, and we got the results we were looking for.”
Captain Anthony McDaniel of Team USA felt his team pushed hard, and had adjusted their strategy well during the game.
“I don’t put too much pressure on myself,” said Anthony. “I know what I’m capable of. I go with the flow of the game.”
Prince Harry was on hand to present both Team Denmark and Team United Kingdom with their gold and silver medals.