Feser hears London calling
Wheelchair basketball player pumped for Summer Paralympic Games
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 15, 2012 06:00 am
Tara Feser is shooting for the ultimate prize at the Summer Paralympic Games with the Canadian women's basketball team.
“We're going for the gold and we're not afraid to say it. We want to strive for the best,” declared Feser during a brief stopover in St. Albert before the Canadian medal hopefuls leave for a pre-Paralympic tournament in the Netherlands.
Canada is ranked third in the world after winning bronze at the 2010 championship. The United States and Germany are first and second, respectively. Australia and the Netherlands are also podium contenders.
“Any of the top five teams right now can win it so we have to be on our top game in order to get to the gold and we're ready to do it,” Feser said.
The national team spent the summer in Winnipeg to gain that extra edge at the London Paralympics.
“It was perfect for what we needed to do. Our biggest problem with living in Canada is our country is so wide and we're so spread apart and as a team we need to be able to gel together," Feser said. “We've really worked as a team the last three months and that's because we've been in such close quarters. We know each other on and off the court a lot better now. We know where everybody is going to be and you don't have to second guess your passes anymore.”
In the last warm-up before the Paralympics, Canada plays Australia, Great Britain, Mexico and the host Netherlands in a five-team tournament. All the teams, except Mexico, are in Canada's pool with Brazil at the Paralympics.
“It's going to be huge for us as a test series but we also have to be careful on not showing them too much and make sure we don't have any injuries coming out of there,” Feser said.
The Paralympics for disabled athletes starts Aug. 29 at the same venues used for the London Olympic Games.
“The basketball arena, as well as the gymnastics arena, are the places we'll be playing at. I've been watching the Olympics on TV and kind of visualizing where we'll be and where all our families will be sitting and kind of getting a little more of an idea of what we're doing that way,” said Feser.
Her first Paralympics was 2008 in Beijing, when Canadian finished a disappointing fifth after consecutive gold medals in 1992, 1996 and 2000 and bronze in 2004.
“I'm very excited. I'm very prepared and ready to go,” said the 2010 Wheelchair Basketball Canada's female athlete of the year. “I've been to the Paralympics once so I know what to expect.”
Feser averaged 7.6 minutes in seven games as the 12th player off the bench in Beijing in her first season on the national team. She was 9-for-23 shooting field goals and recorded 17 defensive rebounds.
The team MVP for the 2009 NCAA champion University of Alabama Crimson Tide is one of three Canadians classified as a 4.5 player with normal trunk movement in all directions and is able to reach side to side with no limitations.
Every player in wheelchair basketball is assigned a point value based on their functional ability, from 1.0 for a player with the least physical function through to 4.5 for the most physical function. The total on-court point value for each team of five players on the court cannot exceed 14.
Feser will be utilized in a pressing or press-break line-up, similar to her performance at the 2010 worlds.
“My role on the team is completely different than in Beijing and I'm looking forward to it,” said the standup basketball player in high school with the Queen Elizabeth Knights, but surgery to correct a dislocated kneecap prevents her from running or jumping.
Feser, 32, is joined by five Canadians with Paralympic experience on the 12-player roster, including 11 returnees from the 2011 silver medallists at the Parapan American Games.
“The biggest difference is we have diversity on this team compared to Beijing,” said the first division player and co-coach with the Trier Dolphins, a semi-pro co-ed wheelchair basketball club in Germany.
“We keep saying we don't have a bench because we don't. We have 12 strong players. We have many different line-ups we can throw out there depending on the team we're going against. In Beijing we had one or two line-ups and if someone threw something different at us we had to somehow counteract that but now we can throw out there any line-up against any team and be successful.”