Paralympics round-up: Beaten GB eye wheelchair rugby semis


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The Independent Online

Great Britain opened their wheelchair rugby campaign with defeat against reigning champions the United States – but captain Steve Brown was far from disconsolate.

Brown's team are widely viewed as strong medal contenders, and they led 13-11 after a fierce opening quarter at the Basketball Arena. Despite a 16-goal display from star performer Aaron Phipps and an 11-goal contribution by David Anthony, though, Britain lost their Pool A opener 56-44. France are next up tonight, followed by Japan on Friday, with successive victories certain to secure semi-final status.

"The States are No 1 in the world, so it was never going to be easy. We had the bounce of the ball sometimes, and other times it went against us," Brown said. "But I am so proud to be captain of a team that gave 100 per cent right until the end. You really go hell for leather, and the crashes are all part of the game. In so many areas we match up with America – our strength, speed and agility. Player for player there is very little difference.

"We have a game plan for every opposition, and when we take on France we will play differently. We will look at what went right and what went wrong, but it is game by game, plan by plan. We are not going to take everything back to the drawing board after four years because of one defeat."

Peter Norfolk and Andy Lapthorne lost out in their challenge for wheelchair tennis quad doubles gold as David Wagner and Nick Taylor beat them 6-2 5-7 6-2 at Eton Manor.

The American pair won the opening set 6-2 and, although Norfolk and Lapthorne rallied to claim the second set, the defending champions proved too strong in the decider. It meant Norfolk had to settle for a silver medal as compensation for his failure to defend his quad singles title.

When Wagner and Taylor led 3-1 in the second set they looked to be on course for a comfortable victory. But Norfolk held his serve to make it 3-2 and then Taylor's serve was broken to level the scores. Lapthorne immediately surrendered his serve and the Americans were back in the driving seat but the Brits would not give up and broke Wagner's serve for 4-4.

Norfolk, Taylor and Lapthorne all held serve, leaving Wagner serving to take the second set into a tie-break. The British pair engineered two set points and Norfolk clinched the set with a backhand volley.

Norfolk held serve convincingly to get the British pair off to a good start in the decider but Taylor held com-fortably for 1-1.

Lapthorne was then broken as the Americans edged ahead. The Britons forged two break points on the Wagner serve. The American came up with an ace on the first of them but then served a double-fault to tie the scores at 2-2.

But Norfolk then lost his serve and the Americans led 3-2 with a break and when Taylor held for 4-2 the match was slipping away from the British duo. Lapthorne then surrendered his serve with a double-fault, although he disputed the line judge's call that his second serve was long.

That left Wagner to serve out for the match, which he did convincingly to clinch the gold medal.