GBWR are European champions for a seventh time after withstanding a huge challenge from Denmark to win 55-45 in the gold medal match of the IWRF Wheelchair Rugby European Championship in Vejle, Denmark on Sunday.
For the last week, Denmark has played host of the IWRF Wheelchair Rugby European Championship in Vejle, the Capital of ParaSport. In a packed venue, the spectators witnessed world-class matches throughout the week peaking today with an exiting final featuring Great Britain and Denmark.
Great Britain were comfortable 63-45 winners over Denmark in the final pool match on Friday, but it was a strong response from the home side in the final today.
Denmark’s Kristian Bak Eriksen admitted it was tough but said the side proved it could play up to the level of Great Britain.
– I’m a bit annoyed that we couldn’t hang on for a bit longer, he said. – But it was an incredibly cool feeling playing here, and I wish we could have rewarded the audience with a win.
France came away with the bronze medal in a thrilling 45-43 triumph against Sweden in overtime.
IWRF president Richard Allcroft labelled it the best European Championship yet.
– The competitions have been fantastic, the venue and the hotel has worked perfectly and the organising committee have done a fantastic job together with strong, genuine partners, who made this a success, Allcroft said. – The Municipality of Vejle are so dedicated about parasport and have been dressing the city in wheelchair rugby, and the competitions have been fantastic with an amazing crowd for almost every game. – Many would have expected Great Britain and France in the final. Yesterday’s game (the semi-final) was in many ways the final, particularly for Denmark, for the first time qualifying to a Paralympics in wheelchair rugby, which must be huge for the team.
Allcroft is hopeful of bringing wheelchair rugby back to the city of Vejle in the not too distant future.
Parasport Denmark President John Petersson echoed those sentiments and paid tribute to all involved in making the event possible.
– Hosting the IWRF Wheelchair Rugby European Championship has been a great experience for Parasport Denmark, Petersson said. – Together with our great partners, the municipality of Vejle and Sport Event Denmark, and with support from the IWRF, we have done everything in our power make this event the best championship to date and to clearly demonstrate our passion for the sport of wheelchair rugby.
Sport Event Denmark partnered the event, and CEO, Lars Lundov agreed with IWRF, the municipality of Vejle and Parasport Denmark.
– It has been a memorable IWRF Wheelchair Rugby European Championship with great matches and excellent spectator support at the venue and online. This is the fourth time, Denmark has hosted a wheelchair rugby championship, and it has been a pleasant experience with Denmark in the final and a qualification for the Paralympics, he said.