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    16 Things That Might Surprise You About Wheelchair Basketball

    "There’s no 'standard' route into the sport."

    1. It was invented by soldiers more than 70 years ago.

    Wounded Warrior Regiment / Via Flickr: usmcwwr

    The sport originated in the 1940s in the United States. Many amateur basketball players suffered injuries from serving in the armed forces during the second world war and developed wheelchair basketball in order to keep playing.

    2. There's no "standard" route into the sport since nobody played it at school.

    3. And people have a variety of reasons for choosing to get involved.

    4. You don't need to be disabled to play.

    University of the Fraser Valley / Via Flickr: ufv

    Anyone can have a go at an amateur level, whether you're disabled or not. Eytle coaches a range of people in wheelchair basketball. "Not everyone knows it as an inclusive sport – so you can bring your friend, your brother, your sister, whoever," she says.

    "Sometimes the thought of playing wheelchair basketball deters people who have a disability because they haven't had a positive experience in sport generally, so it's helpful if they can bring someone along."

    5. With a few small exceptions, the rules are the same as regular basketball.

    Nottingham Trent University / Via Flickr: nottinghamtrentuni

    The wheelchair is basically treated as an extension of the player's body, so if part of the chair touches a line, then the player is touching the line.

    Just like in regular basketball, players aren't allowed to travel with the ball. They have to bounce it after every two pushes of the wheelchair.

    6. The baskets are the same height too.

    Lottery Good Causes / Via

    In fact, everything on the court is exactly the same – the foul line, the three-point line, the size of the hoops. The baskets hang 3.05m off the floor – the same height as in regular basketball. Wheelchair basketball players just throw further.

    7. You can crash your wheelchair into someone else.

    8. Basketball wheelchairs are totally different from the ones people would use on the street.

    9. There's no need to get your own wheelchair to take part.

    University of the Fraser Valley / Via Flickr: ufv

    Clubs have a stock of basketball chairs so they're always likely to have one you can play in – which is good news considering they're super expensive to buy at £1,500 for a basic model. Eytle says the cost of the chairs can be really prohibitive to bringing talented players up to the top levels, which makes sponsorship of clubs and players essential. "We've got a lot of kids now coming from disadvantaged backgrounds that need elite chairs – and one elite chair is £3,500 – so if you're coming from a disadvantaged background, and you want to go on and represent your country, that's a big barrier in itself."

    10. There's one simple way they make the game fair, since some people have more restricted movement than others.

    11. It's incredibly athletic.

    Carlos Ocasio / Via Flickr: cocasio

    Don't be fooled by the fact players are sat down; wheelchair basketball is just as physically demanding as other sports. It requires the skills of basketball – quick decision-making, agility, and proficiency in shooting and handling the ball – with the ability to simultaneously haul your own bodyweight around with your arms, core, and upper body.

    Keeping up with the physicality and speed of the game is the biggest challenge for men's co-captain Terry Bywater, 33, who is one of Team GB wheelchair basketball's most experienced players. The left-leg amputee has been playing since he was 12 years old.

    12. In addition, the Paralympic teams train five times a week.

    13. The wheelchairs often tip over.

    14. It's a great sport to watch.

    15. It's OK to admit that racing around a sports hall in a wheelchair looks really fun.

    16. Team GB has a chance of picking up a medal.

    British Wheelchair Basketball

    Both of Great Britain's wheelchair basketball teams finished outside of the medals table in the London 2012 Paralympics, but could stand a chance of walking away with something in Rio. "Our current ranking is fifth in the world so we are just looking to improve on that," says Carrigill. "We would love to get to a semifinal and take things from there. But you never know what will happen at these kind of tournaments because there is such a high level of competition and it's a high-pressurised situation, so let's wait and see!"

    Brown is pretty optimistic. "This year's Paralympics could be the most competitive of all time," he says. "There are five or six teams who could all realistically get a medal and we are one of them."