On today's blog, Nathan Bragg interviews Belgian athlete Lars Mertens.
Nathan: How are excited are you for the 2012 Canada Cup? How will the Canada Cup help you and your team in your preparations for London?
Lars: We’re really excited to see all the teams we have to play in London. It will be a good test to try new lines. And for me personally, it will be exciting to see the people from Portland, where I trained this year.
Nathan: Belgium has done well at the past two European Championships. What kind of preparation is the team doing to make sure that you carry the momentum into the Canada Cup, and the Paralympics?
Lars: We are working hard at training camps and hopefully this, together with the experience we already have with this team, will bring us a good result.
Nathan: Who do you consider your greatest rivals ahead of the Canada Cup?
Lars: All of the countries we will play in London are rivals, but Canada, Sweden and Australia are special rivals of ours.
Nathan: What are some of your team’s goals for the Canada Cup?
Lars: To compete and learn against the teams we will play in London and to get some of our new players court experience.
Nathan: Do you feel that being from a smaller country is an advantage or disadvantage?
Lars: The advantage is that we practice together a lot. The disadvantage is that we do not have as many players as the bigger countries do.
Nathan: You spent the past year in the United States playing in tournaments all over North America. What did you think of the experience and how did it help you develop as a rugby player?
Lars: It was a great experience to play with players that I wasn’t used to playing with. I think it was great for me to learn to be a better player.
Nathan: What is that you love about wheelchair rugby?
Lars: The full contact. The physical part. It is just an amazing sport.
Nathan: How did you feel when you were named an All-Star at the 2010 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships?
Lars: It’s a great feeling because it’s chosen by the other players, but rugby is a team sport. If my teammates did not help me as well as they did, I would have never been able to get that prize. The team deserves the honour.
Nathan: What you think of the city of Vancouver and the tournament venue?
Lars: Vancouver is just a nice city and the venue is really nice.
Nathan: When you think of Wheelchair Rugby, what do you think of?
Lars: Wheelchair rugby is just the best sport there is.