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London 2012 Paralympics: GB skipper Steve Brown says wheelchair rugby side can recover from first game defeat to USA

Wheelchair rugby - Steve Brown from Sittingbourne.
Wheelchair rugby - Steve Brown from Sittingbourne.

by Alex Hoad at the Basketball Arena

GB skipper Steve Brown says he remains confident his wheelchair rugby side can win their final two group games and reach the Paralympic semi-finals.

The hosts were handed a 56-44 defeat in their opening game against reigning gold medallists and perennial World No1 side the USA at the Basketball Arena on Wednesday afternoon.

Brown (pictured), from Sittingbourne, scored the first goal of the game and added four more and several assists during the contest, playing a team-high 29 minutes of a possible 32.

However he refused to be downhearted as GB – ranked sixth in the world - stuck with their opponents for long periods, matching them goal for goal.

It was ultimately a rash of turnovers in the second and third quarters which gave USA the advantage and GB were unable to stem the flow of their opponents scoring.

The Sheppey-born 31-year-old, said: “The States are the number one in the world. It was never going to be easy.

“They had game plans and we had game plans. We had the luck of the ball sometimes and sometimes the bounce went against us.

“But I am so, so proud to be down there captaining a team that gave 100 per cent right until the end.”

He added: “There are so many areas where we match up with the USA. Our strength, our speed, our agility, player-for-player there’s very little difference. They are No1 in the world and they’re a very well-oiled machine and they have played together for a long time.

“We had tactics and ideas and ways we wanted to perform and we did our best with them but they won.

“Turnovers cost in this game, you have to be clinical. Sometimes you have to regroup, refocus and get yourself back on track.”

Brown agreed that the USA match would be their hardest in the group, but added: “They’re ranked No1 in the world, there’s two ways of looking at it, you either get it out of the way or you build up to it, but it doesn’t matter when you play whom.

“It’s not a case of ‘go on, go out and enjoy yourself’ - we have a game plan for every opposition, we’ll play differently when we play each team.

“Playing them first or third doesn’t make any difference to us.”

GB - who included Brown's Medway Park Crusaders teammates Kylie Grimes, Andy Barrow and Bulbul Hussain in their squad - were roared on by a capacity 12,000 crowd in the Olympic Park and Brown said: “It was amazing. The crowd was something else.

“The thing is you have to draw from the crowd, you find the extra percentage from the crowd.

“It’s alright to let them drive you and help you but you have to remember the supporters are outside the four lines, you have to focus on what’s happening inside the court.”

Wheelchair rugby – surely the most spectacular sport of the Games – was originally dubbed ‘murderball’ and though there were several huge collisions and players from both sides ending up rolling their chairs over, Brown joked: “Murders are few and far between...”

He added: “But you saw the intensity, you really do go hell for leather. The crashes are all part of the game, they are tactical, you want to stop players moving, you want to knock people out of their chair so you’ve got the numbers advantage. The game does involve hits.

“But It’s not bumper cars with a ball, it’s more chess with violence. I like that phrase.”

GB will now face newcomers France at 7pm on Thursday with Japan to follow at 3pm on Friday, and Brown knows two wins would secure a spot in the last four.

He said: “We’ll take things from the first game, what went right, what went wrong. We have got ideas.

“We’re not going back to the drawing board after four years because of one defeat. We think we can beat our other opposition with the game plans we’ve got. Every game is its own game.”

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