April 18 - Australia, Sweden, Canada and Great Britain, four of the best wheelchair rugby teams in the world, are meeting in the International Invitational Wheelchair Rugby Tournament this week – in a competition that will serve as the London 2012 test event for the sport.
The three-day test event takes place until April 19 in the Basketball Arena in London's Olympic Park.
It allows Australia, Sweden, Canada and Great Britain – ranked second, fourth, fifth and sixth in the world, respectively – an unrivalled opportunity to prepare for the Games in the actual venue that will host the event this summer.
Aside from wheelchair rugby, basketball, wheelchair basketball and handball will also be held at the arena during the Games.
The test is the second Paralympics-only test event for London 2012 following that for goalball in December.
Australia and Canada are respectively the reigning Paralympic silver and bronze medallists, but Britain will be eager to beat both after they finished fourth at the Beijing 2008.
Mandip Sehmi (pictured below, with ball), one of Britain's leading players, admits that the event is hugely important to the hosts.
"To get the opportunity to compete in the Paralympic venue ahead of the Games is fantastic and we really have to make the most of it," he told insideworldparasport.
"There are some very good teams here and we want to make a statement by beating them ahead of the Paralympics.
"It will definitely be tough but we have been working really hard this year and we are ready."
He added: "We know how disappointing it was missing out on a medal in Beijing by the narrowest of margins but that has made us more determined to secure a medal here in front of a home crowd."
The event gives the London 2012 organisers a crucial opportunity to test its operations in a dress rehearsal scenario ahead of the Games.
"The International Invitational Wheelchair Rugby Tournament is the first Paralympic test event of this year and will be a vital test of our operations," said London 2012 director of sport Debbie Jevans.
"Wheelchair rugby is an exciting sport and we are delighted to be hosting some of the world's best teams as well as being able to offer the opportunity to thousands of people from the local area to come and watch the competition."
The event will also see Otto Bock kick off the final phase of its preparations in the company's role as Official Prosthetic, Orthotic and Wheelchair Technical Service Provider for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Technical service (pictuerd below), including the repair of damaged wheelchairs, will be offered from an in-venue workshop for the four teams competing.
For the London 2012 Paralympic Games Otto Bock will operate a main 6,500 square foot workshop in the Athletes' Village along with satellite repair centres at the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Village, the Egham Rowing and Canoe Sprint Village and nine competition venues.
These facilities will be fully equipped with the machinery and parts to solve any problems athletes have with their running blades or wheelchairs, as well as any other equipment they use when competing.
Russell Pizzey is one of two British welders forming part of a 12-strong team of Otto Bock specialists at the Paralympics.
"High-impact sports such as wheelchair rugby keep us very busy, and we are prepared for a lot of welding and quick tyre changes at the Games," he said.
"The test events provide an important opportunity for our teams to familiarise themselves with the environment and venues where they will operate during the Games."
The Paralympic, wheelchair rugby will take place from September 5 to 9 with eight teams set to battle for victory in the Basketball Arena.
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