National wheelchair basketball selects Burlington player

Burlington’s Brandon Wagner is one of 26 athletes selected by Wheelchair Basketball Canada to represent the country in 2012 as the Senior Men’s and Women’s National Wheelchair Basketball Teams prepare for the London Paralympic Games. He is the only area athlete from either the men’s or women’s team to be chosen from a pool of 37 athletes who attended a weeklong selection camp Jan. 9-13 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Twelve men and 14 women were selected.

The 28-year-old Wagner, who was born in Kitchener, was introduced to wheelchair basketball in Burlington, where he learned to appreciate the uniqueness of the game. He is a competitive person who enjoys the physicality involved and the challenge of matching up against bigger and stronger players. Given the opportunity he will thrive on the defensive mistakes of his opponents.

Wagner is described as a good team player who rises to the challenge of becoming the best in the world.

His progress in the sport has been rapid. He began with the Burlington Vipers club team and made the U23 Junior National Team in 2005. Before long he was accepted to play at the University of Illinois where he won the collegiate championships in 2008. In 2009 he was named Student-Athlete of the Year.

Participating in, and watching sports consume much of his time, but family and friends are really important to him. Alongside an admiration for athletic greats Lance Armstrong and Muhammed Ali, his late grandfather remains his biggest role model.

The senior men’s team is the defending Paralympic silver medalists, and is looking for its third gold medal and fourth consecutive podium finish in London. The 2012 men’s roster includes 11 returning players, 9 of whom have Paralympic experience.

The senior women’s team last medalled at the Paralympics in 2004 where they took home bronze (their fourth consecutive Paralympic podium finish which included an unprecedented three consecutive gold finishes in 1992, 1996, and 2000). The 2012 women’s roster includes 11 returning players, six of who have Paralympic experience.

The Senior Men’s National Team is amongst the top wheelchair basketball teams in the world. The Canadian Men are the defending silver medallists from the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. They won back-to-back Paralympic gold medals in 2000 and 2004 and have reached the podium at five of the last six consecutive World Championships.

The Senior Women’s National Team is amongst the most successful and dominant teams in Canadian amateur sport history. The team captured three consecutive Paralympic gold medals in 1992, 1996, and 2000, and bronze in 2004. They have also reached the podium at six consecutive World Championships.