For days now it has been a succession of highlights in and around Ahoy, but on Thursday the European Para Championships go back into town. Para Cycling kicks off with the Team Relay, at a typically Dutch location: a street circuit on the edges of the river Maas. The archers will remain active at Ahoy for a while, but are also preparing to move to the Kop van Zuid. Starting Friday, there will also be cycling in the area around the Willem Alexanderbaan.
On Thursday the cycling program will begin. It will kick off with a team race. The Team Relay will take place at a beautiful location in downtown Rotterdam. In the Scheepvaartkwartier, with spectacular views of the river Maas and the Erasmus Bridge, a lap has been set out. From 6 p.m., eleven country teams will start in the Team Relay. After two qualifying heats, the finals will follow from 7:45 p.m. Time trails and roadraces will be held from Friday till Subnday at the Willem Alexanderbaan.
Wheelchair Basketball is entering its decisive phase in Ahoy. Wednesday the two courts were buzzing with activity. Thursday will see two semifinals for the men: Netherlands-Spain and Germany-Great Britain. In the women’s competition, the top countries have the day off; the small and large finals are scheduled for Friday.
There was a lot of good news especially from the Dutch perspective. Led by Mariska Beijer (27 points) and Bo Kramer (17), the Dutch women’s team won 64-31 over Spain in the semifinals. With reaching the final match, against Great Britain, the paralympic ticket is also in. Coach Gertjan van der Linden remained extremely level-headed about it. “We didn’t come here for the paralympic qualification, we want to become European champions. That’s our priority.” Witness the celebration in the stands, the fans thought otherwise, they are already preparing for the trip to the Paralympics in Paris 2024.
The Dutch men are also chasing that ticket, but still have a long way to go. Against France, they escaped defeat. At halftime there was still a ten-point deficit (37-27) and it remained exciting until the final minutes. Topscorer Mendel Op den Orth (32 points) and guard Quinten Zantinge led the Orange – after a 58-55 deficit – into safe harbor: 60-63. France’s last score fell out of time. Federal coach Cees van Rootselaar: “We made it very difficult for ourselves by missing a lot of balls, including 11 free throws.”
The sport experienced its last European Championship day on Wednesday. Almost everyone unfamiliar with the paralympic version of taekwondo came to the conclusion that the sport is just as flashy and intense. Each of the finals were fought passionately.
On a specially equipped area next to Ahoy, archery will continue to be shot on Thursday and Friday. During the weekend they will move to the Kop van Zuid for the most important individual and country finals.
The badminton tournament will continue until Sunday and will, logically, remain in Ahoy all those days.
Shooting Para Sport
Also new as of Thursday: Shooting Para Sport. After qualifying in the morning hours in the 10m Air rifle standing SH1 and Air rifle standing SH2 classes, the finals will follow in the afternoon hours in Ahoy.