Earlier today, the Internal Wheelchair Rugby Federation announced the seven players selected for the inaugural IWRF Athlete’s Council. The athletes chosen include Jason Lees, Jaewoong Choi, Jason Regier, Fabian Lavoie, Christian Götze, Allan Lynch, and Sébastien Lhuissier. Germany’s Jens Sauerbier is the chairperson.
Jens Sauerbier is a 2.0 point player from Germany. In August 2014, the German team was 11th in the world. In July 2014, the team participated in the 2014 Swiss Preparation Wheelchair Rugby Tournament. At the time, they were ranked eighth in the world.
Thirty-seven-year-old Jason Lees is a 1.0 point player from Australia representing the Asia-Oceania Zone. In August 2014, the team was ranked first in the world after winning gold at the 2014 IWRF World Championships. In July 2014, they participated in the 2014 Swiss Preparation Wheelchair Rugby Tournament. The Australian team competed at the London Paralympics. Lees was part of that team, which took home gold. He was also part of the silver medal winning team at the 2010 IWRF World Championships.
Jaewoong Choi plays for South Korea and is a 1.0 point player representing the Asia-Oceania Zone. In August, the South Korean national team was ranked 24th of 26 internationally ranked teams, a ranking that did not improve in December of this past year. South Korea also participated at the 2012 Summer Paralympics.
Thirty-eight-year-old Jason Regier of Denver, Colorado plays for the United States and is a 0.5 point player representing the Americas Zone. In August 2014, the United States was ranked third in the world, after holding first place in July 2014. The team competed at the 2014 IWRF World Championships, and the July 2014 Swiss Preparation Wheelchair Rugby Tournament. The Americans participated in the 2012 Summer Paralympics. where the Americans won a bronze medal. In his national team playing career, Reiger has racked up eight first place tournament finishes. He has an MBA from the University of Colorado.
Fabian Lavoie is a 3.0 point Canadian player representing the Americas Zone. In August 2014, Canada was ranked second in the world, up from the third they were ranked going into the World Championships. Lavoie was part of the Canadian side that competed at last year’s world championships. Canada participated at the 2012 Summer Paralympics.
Christian Götze is a 1.0 point player from Germany representing the European Zone. He has been a regular member of the Germany squad, representing the country in wheelchair rugby at the 2008 Summer Paralympics, where his team finished in sixth after losing to New Zealand in the placement match.
Allan Lynch is a 1.0 point player from Ireland representing the European Zone. In December 2014, Ireland made it through the group stage to finish fourth at the Prague hosted Rugbymania 2014 after losing the bronze medal game to Denmark. Lynch was part of that Irish team. In August 2014, the team was ranked 23rd internationally.
Sébastien Lhuissier is a 2.0 point player from France representing the European Zone. In July 2014, France hosted a friendly series against New Zealand in advance of the IWRF World Championships. At the time, France was ranked 12th in the world. The team then went to Denmark where they competed in those championships. In August 2014, the team was ranked 9th in the world. He was part of the French squad at the 2012 Summer Paralympics, where is team finished eighth after losing to Belgium in the placement match.
The Council has 7 roles they have been tasked with. These include, “To provide a forum for athletes to share their views on matters of interest and concern to athletes.”, “To communicate with athletes to solicit input, identify issues, provide education, and disseminate information.”, “To advise the IWRF Board of Directors and Standing Committees on behalf of wheelchair rugby athletes.”, “To provide athlete representatives for IWRF Standing Committees and Zone Committees.”, “To provide input and feedback to the IWRF Technical Committee on proposed changes to the International Rules for the Sport of Wheelchair Rugby.”, “To provide input and feedback to the IWRF Classification Committee on proposed changes to the IWRF Classification Manual.” and “To provide an opportunity for leadership development among wheelchair rugby athletes.”
Chairperson Sauerbier is quoted by the IWRF as saying of the selection, “We have selected seven athletes who are all well qualified to serve on this council; and together we will be seeking input from players, classifiers, officials and others who participate in wheelchair rugby so that we can discuss their concerns, and those of the sport.”