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Photo story: Basketball on wheels

It's training time for Argentina's wheelchair basketball team.

Wheelchair basketball
Gustavo Villafane does push-ups with his only arm. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

Wheelchair basketball was born in England in 1940. South America joined the movement in the 1950s after a polio epidemic swept through the region leaving many disabled. The sport is now played in more than 75 countries.

Physical disabilities aside, the players use the same ball as in Olympic basketball and the hoop is at the same height.

Photographer Javier Heinzmann watched courtside, as the Argentine national players trained for the upcoming Paralympics.

Here is what he found:

When he's not training with the national team, Gustavo Villafane asks for money from motorists waiting at traffic lights in Buenos Aires, May 12, 2010. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

The national team players go up the ramp to the court of the National Center for High Performance Sports. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

The warm-up exercises are essential. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

Gustavo Villafare performs abdominal exercises. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

Buket Mauritius, the youngest player on the team, and Fernando Ovejero work on motion exercises and shooting. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

The basketball hoop is at the standard height. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

Players participate in a training session in the gym. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

Coach Domingo Patrone watches closely at the national team trials. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

The national team members come from provinces throughout the country. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

Gustavo Villafare does push-ups to strengthen his only arm. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

Hernan Fonseca shows the wear suffered by the hands in the national team matches. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

Preparing for the Paralympics to be held in Venezuela next November. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

During training, the national team players face each other to determine game strategies. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

Players eat high-calorie diets. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

Players have to maintain their own wheelchairs. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

Daniel Copa lost his leg when he was 3 years old due to a genetic malformation. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

Fernando Ovejero fights for the ball during a training match. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

Domingo Patrone talks technique during training. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

Alejandro Fernandez exercises in the gym of the sports center. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

Sergio Vera Peralta performs a maneuver to gain height, placing the chair on one wheel. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

The sun shines through a window of the court. (Javier Heinzmann/GlobalPost)

Two players arrive for training. (Javier Heinzmann/Globalpost)



About the photographer:

Javier Heinzmann is a freelance photojournalist based in Argentina. After working for different newspapers and agencies, he decided to do independent work. His photos have been published in newspapers and magazines around the world.