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U.S. Goalball Program Earns Paralympic Podium Finishes in Rio

Posted September 22, 2016  Goalball | National Goalball Teams | Rio 2016

U.S. Men’s and Women’s Goalball Teams Finish Paralympic Games on the podium for the first time in 12 years.

RIO DE JANEIRO (September 22, 2016) – After nine days of competition at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, both U.S. Men’s and Women’s Goalball Teams had podium finishes. U.S. Men fought for silver while the U.S. Women earned a well-deserved bronze. The United States was the only nation to have both goalball teams medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games. The last time both U.S. Men’s and Women’s Goalball Teams made it to the podium at the Paralympic Games was 2004. In Athens, the women earned silver while men earned bronze.

“We’re very proud of both Men’s and Women’s teams’ performances in Rio,” said Mark Lucas, United States Association of Blind Athletes Executive Director. “They showed determination and perseverance against the best goalball teams in the world.”

The United States Association of Blind Athletes, a member organization of the United States Olympic Committee, has served as the National Governing Body for the sport of goalball since it was demonstrated at the 1976 Paralympic Games. The game was originally developed in 1946 for blinded WWII Veterans as a way to stay active and adapt to life without eyesight.

U.S. Women finished behind Turkey, who made their Paralympic debut with the highest scorer of the tournament, and China. Though the U.S. Women started the tournament with a loss against host nation, Brazil, they went on to beat defending Paralympic champions, Japan, and finished preliminary play with a 3-1 record. In the quarterfinals knockout round, U.S. Women met rival team, Canada, who eliminated them from competition early in London four years ago. Team USA held the Canadians to no goals in 24 minutes, this time eliminating them from the tournament. After a loss to Turkey, the U.S. Women were placed in the bronze medal game where they evened the score with Brazil, winning 3-2 to finish 3rd in the tournament.

Having not qualified for the London 2012 Paralympic Games and finishing 4th in Beijing, the U.S. Men’s Goalball Team needed to show the world they were still strong contenders. Placed in the ‘group of death’ when groups were drawn in May, the U.S. Men were anticipating it would be a difficult journey to the podium. A win against China in the first preliminary game got them going but it was a win against Finland, the defending Paralympic champions, that really fueled their momentumU.S. Men faced Brazil in the semifinals and won, advancing to the gold medal game. Team USA faced Lithuania, a team in need of only a gold medal to complete their collection that already includes four Paralympic medals (two silver, two bronze). Ultimately, U.S. Men fell to Lithuania but still finished as one of the best goalball teams in the world.

“I’m very proud of this team,” said Head Coach, Mike Legé. “We’ve been through a lot of adversity. We didn’t make the London Games so it was an uphill battle from there, not being able to qualify after Beijing’s fourth place finish.”

Some of the U.S. Men’s Goalball team’s success in Rio can be attributed to the establishment of the first-ever Goalball Resident Program in the U.S. which opened last October. The United States Association of Blind Athletes partnered with Turnstone Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to institute a Goalball Center for Excellence, an established residence where teams from across the U.S. and around the world will visit and train with U.S. teams for a period of time. USABA is already working on the next stage of the plan – a U.S. Women’s Goalball Resident Program.

To schedule an interview with goalball athletes or coaches from the teams, or obtain photos of the teams in Rio, please contact Courtney Patterson at cpatterson@usaba.org or 719-866-3222.

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About U.S. Association of Blind Athletes

Since its founding in 1976, USABA, a community-based organization of the United States Olympic Committee, has reached more than 100,000 blind individuals. Though USABA serves as the National Governing Body for the Paralympic sport of goalball, it has emerged as more than just a world-class trainer of blind athletes – USABA 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: @USABA | Facebook: United States Association of Blind Athletes


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