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Patrick Anderson: Wheelchair Basketball Star

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Winning one Paralympic gold medal is challenging enough. Winning two in consecutive Paralympics is even more difficult. But that's exactly what Patrick Anderson and his Canadian Wheelchair Basketball team did, whipping Austrailia, 70-53 in the finals Sept. 28 to capture their second gold in as many Paralympics.

Regarded as one of the best players in the world by his peers and the media, Anderson helped Canada completely dominate the Austrailians from start to finish. Canada, winners of eight straight, led 21-14 after the first quarter, then took a 37-26 lead into the locker room at halftime and never looked back.

Anderson, named Most Valuable Player of the tournament, poured in 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the finals. He also showed his crisp passing ability by dishing out seven assists. Teammate and close friend Joey Johnson led all scorers with 15 points.

"It is a strange feeling, a strange emotion," Anderson says of winning the gold. "It is like being inside a bubble. We needed to win, and we did."

As a kid, Wheelchair Basketball was the last thing on Anderson's mind. Born Aug. 22, 1979 in Edmonton, Alberta, he took up the sport many able-bodied kids in his country played: ice hockey. He was enjoying the rewards of the sport, and the joys of being a kid.

But all that abruptly changed. One day, when Anderson was nine, he was struck by a drunk driver at a picnic, and became paralyzed for life.

Instead of allowing the accident to permanently end his physically active lifestyle, Anderson showed the same courage and tenacity he displays on the court. Once he became involved in Wheelchair Basketball, he was hooked.

"I started playing, and I liked it," he says simply.

His 15-year career as a player is impressive. Besides his two Paralympic gold medals, Anderson took Most Valuable Player honors and a gold in both the 1997 and 2001 Junior World Championships, a bronze in the 1998 Gold Cup World Championships, and has won a combined eight championships with Ontario and Twin City. He has also played in Brisbane, and currently plays for a team in Germany.

Anderson downplays his role during the tournament, preferring to give credit to his teammates.

"What we did in Athens is a result of team effort," he insists. "All players worked very hard to get this result."

When he isn't dominating on the basketball court, Anderson enjoys playing music. "I very much like singing and playing the guitar," he says. "I have made some discussions (about a music career), but nothing is certain yet. We'll see in the future."

As to that future, Anderson plans to spend some time with his family in Canada before returning to play in Germany. Though he is thrilled to have won two Paralympic medals, he has an even bigger agenda: promoting Wheelchair Basketball.

"Our goal as a team was to play well," he says. "We wanted people to see our success, realize what Wheelchair Basketball is all about and take it to the next level, hoping that other teams will follow. "I think we did that here, and I am proud of it."

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For complete coverage of the 2004 Paralympic Games, visit:
http://www.athens2004.com/en/
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About the Author

Stephen Michael Kerr is the publisher of Adaptive Sports & Recreation, a free ezine devoted to sports for people with disabilities. To read previous issues, visit:
http://archives.zinester.com/41809

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