THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
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This weekend, the US Wheelchair Rugby team are competing in the Quad Nations tournament in Leicester, England, pitting them against Australia and the UK.
The tournament began earlier today at 11am GMT, with the US team coming out triumphant against Australia, with a score of 54 to 42. This afternoon, the US take on the UK, with other matches between the teams taking place across the weekend.
Ahead of the tournament, US co-captain Joe Delagrave (pictured) outlined why the event is important to him. "For the first year and a half-two years after my accident I didn’t want anything to do with wheelchair sports. I didn’t think there could be any fulfilment or satisfaction from it. Obviously, I was wrong." Joe's accident took place on the Mississippi River. As he explains, "I was on a small bass fishing boat with my two best friends, Kyle and Adam. We were on the Mississippi River in the back channels. Kyle was driving, Adam was knee boarding, and I was sitting on one of the boat chairs watching. Kyle ended up hitting the bottom of the river by accident and my chair snapped on impact. I flew forward hitting my head on the front inside edging of the boat. The impact caused me to fracture my C6-7 vertebrae leading me to become paralysed."
At the time of his accident, Joe was playing American football for Winona State: "I was a tight end for a Division 2 football program out of Winona State University. Feeling like my athletic identity had been ripped away was tough to deal with ... Here I was at 19, paralysed, and now unable to do what I loved most - play sports. I found wheelchair rugby online and went to a practice in Minneapolis in 2006 at Courage Kenny [a Rehabilitation Institute]. I remember that first practice changing my life in being around guys that knew about getting through life in a chair, and figuring out all the little things, and of course playing this crazy sport! I realised it was a Paralympic sport and started setting some goals on becoming a national team member and making a Paralympic team."
Joe was selected for the team that went to the London 2012 Paralympic Games, and is part of a 16-man training team for the Tokyo 2020 games, making the Quad Nations an ideal event in which to compete. The American wishes all the competitors, particularly Team USA, the best of luck in the event!
To keep up to date with the Quad Nations tournament, check out www.wrquadnations.com.