From July 27-August 12, people from around the world will be watching the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, which will be held in London. However, the Olympic Games is not the only major sporting event held in London this year. The Paralympic Games, which is a “major international multi-sport event where athletes with a physical disability compete”, will begin August 29 and end September 9. Unfortunately, the Paralympics are not currently scheduled to be televised, but there have been discussions about trying to get NBC Sports, which televises the Olympics, to televise the Paralympics as well. Click here for more on this (and to sign the petition!).
Recently, “Two Men On” interviewed good friend and U.S. Paralympian Chuck Aoki. Aoki, who is from Minneapolis, is on the U.S wheelchair rugby team. He was asked about the upcoming Paralympics and about wheelchair rugby in general. Here is the interview:
Two Men On (TMO): How and when did you get interested in wheelchair rugby? When did you start playing it?
Aoki: I got interested in playing wheelchair rugby after I saw the movie Murderball, and decided to go check out a practice here in Minnesota. This would have been back in 2007, so I’ve been playing for just over 5 years now.
TMO: What is it about the sport that you like so much? Is there anything you don’t like about it?
Aoki: I love the intensity, the passion, and the physicality that comes with rugby. There’s no sport like it, and I love every part of it.
TMO: What position do you play?
Aoki: I am a 3.0 in rugby, which means I am a high point player, which means I have more function than most players on the court, so it is my responsibility to guard the other team’s top player, do a lot of scoring, and help run the offense.
TMO: What has training for the Paralympics been like for you?
Aoki: Training has been unlike any other type of training, it is 5-6 days a week, it is some of the hardest work I have ever done. But the Paralympics are a totally different level of competition, so it requires another level of training.
TMO: When and where do you train?
Aoki: I train here in Minnesota at the local YMCA, or the Courage Center, and when I train with the USA team, we train at a place called Lakeshore Foundation, in Birmingham, Alabama.
TMO: How often do you train?
Aoki: We train at Lakeshore once a month in the summer, from anywhere from 3 days to 17.
TMO: Do you think the documentary Murderball accurately represents wheelchair rugby? Why or why not?
Aoki: Murderball is an interesting movie without a doubt, and certainly portrays some things correctly, such as the passion and intensity we have for our sport. Having said that, it is a movie, so they certainly edit some things to make it seem more dramatic than it actually is.
TMO: What will your schedule be like for the Paralympics?
Aoki: Our schedule is supposed to come out today (July 23), so I’m looking forward to that! (Click here to view the Paralympic event schedule).
For more information on the Paralympic Games, click here. Make sure to sign the NBC Sports petition mentioned earlier in this post! Good luck in London, Chuck and the rest of the U.S. wheelchair rugby team!!
Written by: Sam Graves