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The Australian Steelers have won the gold medal at the Paris 2024 Qualification Tournament in Wellington, New Zealand but were made to fight until the very last second.

The Steelers defeated Canada 49-48 in an epic final after captain Chris Bond scored the winning goal with 1.8 seconds remaining in overtime. Scores were locked at 45-all at full-time.

“That was exactly the game we needed at this time. You can’t replicate overtime games and pressure situations against the best teams. So to get the win was the icing on the cake,” Bond said.

“We love playing for each other and we love playing for the green and gold. These opportunities are rare and we wanted to play our best game in the final. We did that and we have found a habit of doing that.”

Victory capped a hugely satisfying week for the Australians, who secured their place in the wheelchair rugby draw at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games by winning their semi-final against Brazil 24 hours earlier.

“We got better and better every game here. We cleaned up a lot of the mistakes we were making which is what we need to do in big competitions and what we have done when we’ve had success at the biggest tournaments in the past,” Bond said.

“Winning our semi-final and making the Paralympics was definitely the main goal here, but winning the final is amazing. We’ll take it. We never play to lose.”

Australian coach Brad Dubberley now has several selection decisions to make with just 158 days until the Steelers play their first match at the Paris Paralympics.

But one thing is certain, he will have plenty of big-game experience to choose from.

The Steelers are the world champions from 2022, the world cup champions from 2023 and are desperate to erase the disappointment of a fourth-place finish from Tokyo 2020 that ended a unbroken reign of Paralympic and World Championship finals appearances between 2008 and 2018.

“This Paralympics is going to be one of the closest in history so playing in a final, playing in overtime and getting a win like that is huge for us,” Dubberley said.

“Qualifying was the obviously the most important job we had to do here, getting time into all of our line-ups was another, but to end the tournament on high, win the final and leave it with a lot of confidence and momentum is what it’s about.”

“We know we’re capable of taking any team out at these big tournaments.”

Dubberley paid tribute to the Canadians at full-time, who he said would be another strong medal contender in Paris.

Led by their talisman Zak Madell, the Canadians were gallant in the final. After the Australians raced to a two-goal lead in the first quarter, Canada never gave in and finally snatched the lead for the first time with two-minutes to go.

It took all of the guile of experienced Australian duo Ryley Batt and his captain Bond, along with rising stars James McQuillan and Beau Vernon, to deny them in the dying seconds.

““We know Canada were very hungry for that win. They are one of the top teams in the world and we knew it was going to be a war against them.

They are a very experienced team and a very smart team. To beat them at any time is great but to win in an overtime game is even better. That was very satisfying.”

Earlier, Germany claimed the final ticket to Paris 2024 by defeated Brazil 62-50 in the bronze medal match. 


Paris 2024 Paralympic Qualifying Tournament
Wellington, New Zealand

Gold Medal matchAustralia 49 defeated Canada 48 (overtime)

Bronze Medal match – Germany 62 -50 Brazil

Final Standings

  1. Australia – QUALIFIED
  2. Canada – QUALIFIED
  3. Germany – QUALIFIED
  4. Brazil
  5. New Zealand
  6. Netherlands
  7. Colombia
  8. Switzerland

Australian Steelers – Results
Pool A matches

Australia 60 – 40 Switzerland
Australia 55 – 45 Colombia
Australia 60 – 43 Germany

Australia 62 – 37 Brazil

By: Tim Mannion, Paralympics Australia
Published: 24 March 2024