After finishing fifth at this year’s World Championships, Prince Albert’s Erica Gavel and the rest of Canada’s national wheelchair basketball team are hard at work to prepare for their next challenge.
The team reconvened in Toronto this past week for their first training sessions for the upcoming season, which will be highlighted by their participation in the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru next summer.
“There are a lot of tests that take place there to see where are baselines are at so that they can see how much training we’ve done when we meet up again in March,” Gavel said. “There’s also a lot of medical tests that are done to make sure that we are all healthy and we do a lot off the court work as well that we all do.
“We’re going to be going to Japan in January for a week and visiting the site that we will be competing in Tokyo for a tournament in March, so we have a good idea of what lies ahead.”
Gavel and her teammates are coming off of a fifth place result at the World Championships in Hamburg, Germany two months ago, as they lost in the quarter-finals to China.
“That was an interesting experience,” Gavel said. “There was a lot of turnover following the Paralympics in Rio two years ago (where Canada lost in the quarter-finals) so we really weren’t sure where things stood with our team, but we now realize that we have a group here that can contend to be among the top four teams in the world.
“With that being said, we underperformed in that game against China and it was disappointing for us to not be among those top four teams at the event. We felt like we truly belonged in the mix for a medal, but it showed us what we need to do to be in that discussion.”
With the current Canadian roster being younger than it has been in recent years, Gavel believes that having consistent performances is the main thing separating the team from being among the top ranked squads internationally.
“We had a really great game against the Netherlands, who are probably the best team in the world right now, but we just struggle in having those showings on a regular basis,” Gavel said.
“The attention to detail that everyone on the team has focused on this week has been really impressive and I think we can sustain going into the next couple years as we prepare for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.”
Gavel is also working on mapping out her schedule better this year, as she’s attending grad school at the University of Toronto and working towards a long-term goal of earning a PHD in Paralympic Sports Science.
“With starting up my studies again last year and an increased training regiment, there was quite of lot of changes happening all at once,” Gavel said.
“I did a lot of reflecting over what worked and didn’t work for me, and I decided to try and balance things out a lot more and have some more free time for myself between my studies and my training.”