Colorado Springs, Colo. (May 13, 2019) – The 27 goalball teams vying to secure a place in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games at this summer’s International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) International Qualifier in Fort Wayne, Indiana, have been finalized. The announcement comes with 50 days remaining before the July 2-9 competition at Turnstone Center and Indiana Tech.
The 27 teams include 14 men’s and 13 women’s squads. The top two teams in each gender at the conclusion of the tournament will earn berths at next year’s Paralympic Games, provided they have not already qualified.
“The level of competition in this IBSA qualifying tournament will be incredibly strong,” said Mark Lucas, executive director of the United States Association of Blind Athletes. “With more than 100 countries competing internationally in goalball, these are the best teams in the world who have yet to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.”
The U.S. goalball teams boast nine Paralympic medalists on their rosters including Asya Miller (Portland, Ore.), Lisa Czechowski (Boonton, N.J.), Amanda Dennis (Peachtree City, Ga.), Eliana Mason (Beaverton, Ore.) and Marybai Huking (Plain City, Utah) on the women’s side, and Tyler Merren (Coral Springs, Fla.), John Kusku (Commerce Township, Mich.), Joseph Hamilton (Sacramento, Calif.) and Andrew Jenks (Wilmington, Del.) on the men’s team.
The American teams are coming off medal-winning performances at the most recent Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016, where the men’s squad captured the silver medal and the women’s team won the bronze.
Other teams selected for the men’s goalball tournament are Argentina, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Korea, Lithuania, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and Ukraine. The strong field includes the past three Paralympic gold medalists in Lithuania (2016), Finland (2012) and China (2008).
The women’s field boasts two-time Paralympic champion Canada along with powerhouse Denmark, the third-most decorated country at the Paralympic Games with four medals, including one gold. Other nations in the women’s tournament are Australia, China, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Israel, Korea, Spain and Ukraine.
“For many of these teams competing, this is their first and last chance to secure a spot in Tokyo, and with only six spots left to qualify, all teams will be extremely motivated to win more than ever,” added Lucas.
The event also includes the IBSA Judo Qualifier from July 3-5 at the Grand Wayne Center, as well as the IBSA General Assembly.
Founded in 1943, Turnstone empowers people with disabilities by maximizing their independence. The agency’s mission is to provide therapeutic, educational, wellness and recreational programs to empower people with disabilities, and it is the only not-for-profit in the region that offers a full range of programs and facilities designed to meet the unique needs of people with disabilities.
Since its founding in 1976, USABA, a community-based organization of the United States Olympic Committee, has reached more than 100,000 blind individuals. The organization has emerged as more than just a world-class trainer of blind athletes, it has become a champion of the abilities of Americans who are legally blind. USABA’s mission: to enhance the lives of blind and visually impaired people by providing the opportunity for participation in sports and physical activity. www.usaba.org | Twitter: @USABA1 | Facebook: United States Association of Blind Athletes