• Meet the Women of Wheelchair Rugby

  • Hayley Palmer  |  June 9, 2024

Wheelchair Rugby is a unique sport for many reasons. One of the things that makes wheelchair rugby unique among Olympic and Paralympic sports is how male and female athletes play together on the same teams and in the same competitions, from the grassroots to the Paralympic Games.

Four women are taking the stage at the Canada Cup this weekend. From trail-blazing veterans to promising rookies, the best female athletes in wheelchair rugby are guaranteed to shine in Richmond.

Ella Sabljak (2.5) – Australia

Ella Sabljak has seen great success in the sport despite having only started playing in 2022. Having had her start in wheelchair basketball–where she represented Australia at the 2020 Paralympic Games and 2022 Commonwealth Games–she made the switch to Wheelchair Rugby late in the 2022 season, first joining the Steelers at the 2022 Musholm Cup in Denmark. She would then go on to be a part of Australia’s 2022 World Championship winning side. 

She’s had a fairly easy transition to wheelchair rugby, as her chair skills and agility have transferred well from one sport to the other, and is developing into one of Australia’s key reserves. 

Shae Graham (2.5) – Australia

Shae Graham was the first female athlete to represent Australia in wheelchair rugby. Shae’s been a part of the Australian team since 2019 and plays a key role in attack and defense when the Steelers go to their balanced line-up.

A trail-blazer within the Australian wheelchair rugby community, her rise and talent has helped inspire more females in Australia to get involved in the sport. 

Kae Kurahashi (0.5) – Japan

Kae Kurahashi joined Japan’s national wheelchair rugby team in 2017 as the only woman on the roster, assisting them in winning gold at the 2018 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships. She became one of three women to win Paralympic wheelchair rugby medals (along with Kylie Grimes of Great Britain and Erika Schmutz of Canada) when Japan clinched a bronze medal in Tokyo.

Kae was also an important contributor to the Japanese low-point team that won the silver medal at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Emilie Miller (0.5) – Australia 

Emilie Miller had her start in para-cycling at the age of 17, eventually leading her to multiple UCI Para-cycling Road World Championship medals over the years. After making the switch to wheelchair rugby, she won her first world championship gold medal at the 2022 IWRF World Championship. At this tournament, Miller, along with Shae Graham and Ella Sabljak, made history by becoming the first trio of female athletes to be part of a World Championship winning team. 

You can catch these athletes battling for the Canada Cup at the final day of the tournament! Buy your tickets here to watch live at the Richmond Olympic Oval or stream the games online