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EMMA ALBERICI: Wheelchair basketball is a breathtaking sport, which the competitors describe as
brutal and gruelling.

Metal sparks literally fly as wheels clash in the race around the court.

Wheelchair basketball is also one of the most popular sports at the Paralympic Games and the two
Australian teams are well positioned for a gold medal haul at Beijing after both won silver at
Athens in 2004.

The mens and women's teams, the Rollers and the Gliders, were announced today as Karen Barlow
reports.

SPORTS COMMENTATOR: There is a chance, interception, there is the pass.

KAREN BARLOW: There was no on-court pressure today as 24 men and women representing Australia at
Beijing in wheelchair basketball were announced.

But chairs of the Rollers and Gliders team members slipped easily around the court often on a
single rim and more than occasionally bouncing off an opponent's chair.

The Rollers captain, Troy Sachs, is off to his fifth Paralympics.

TROY SACHS: It takes a lot of hand eye co-ordination and yeah it is brutal. You think you usually
use four limbs to take care of your daily activities, well we only use two and you are pushing the
wheelchair, you are bouncing the wheelchair and you are shooting a basketball. So the game goes for
40 minutes fully timed which is about two and a half hours. Some guys push up to 20 kilometres a
game. It just depends on how much you play and there is a lot of team work, a lot of intricacies in
it and it is very tough.

KAREN BARLOW: Sachs describes the competitors like racing cars taking corners.

TROY SACHS: You got 10 guys on the court at one time that have all got spinal cord injuries. They
are males. Most of them have had them because of alcohol or crashing their car so then you put them
in wheelchair, they like speed and they are physical so it is fantastic.

KAREN BARLOW: Wheelchair basketball retains most major rules and scoring of able bodied basketball,
although there is no slam dunking and no double dribbling of the ball.

There are also some metal clashes on court - the wheelchair is considered to be part of the player
and the players are strapped into position.

Gerry Hewson is the coach of the women's team, the Gliders and a former Paralympian.

GERRY HEWSON: Absolutely, sparks flying and occasionally you get wheels crash together and they
will light up. There is a coating on the edge of the rim that actually lights up like a spark and
it stays for about two, three seconds so that kind of splashes around the place every now and then
so that is quite exciting and lots of smashing and banging of chairs and people falling out - it is
great fun.

KAREN BARLOW: Both the Rollers and the Gliders came in second at Athens.

Five time, Paralympian and Gliders captain, Liesl Tesch, says she wants the team to do one better
at Beijing.

LIESL TESCH: We have just come back from two really tough tournaments in America where we came
third and fourth but it gave us a really good look at what we have to do and some great video
footage. As Aussies we are so isolated from the rest of the world so to have those tournaments
prior to the Games was excellent and I think, I know I personally am. I am confident that all the
other girls on the team are doing everything they can to be prepared for that gold medal play-off.

KAREN BARLOW: Silver medal at Athens.

LIESL TESCH: And silver in Sydney so I know the dirty taste of losing that last important game and
I really don't want to participate in that one this time around.

KAREN BARLOW: So who is the team to beat? Is it Canada?

LIESL TESCH: No the USA this time around. They are looking really tough. They have got a huge
college program over there. We've got a couple of our girls playing over there but they are a
really disciplined team and they have got great shooting stats so that is what we have to beat.

KAREN BARLOW: The men's top team is Canada - they will be going for their third straight gold
medal.

The Paralympics will be held from September the 7th through to the 17th and the basketball
competition will be run throughout most of the Games.

EMMA ALBERICI: Karen Barlow there.