After a tense gold medal match, Great Britain claimed victory at the 2015 IBSA European Men’s C Goalball Championships on Thursday (5 February) in Malmö, Sweden with a 6-5 victory over Russia.
The two finalists, together with bronze medallists Portugal, will now advance to the men’s B group.
It has been a long road to victory for the British team. At the 2013 C-division championships in Great Britain, the hosts won every match until they were defeated 7-5 by Portugal in the semi-final. The team lost 7-2 to Italy in the bronze medal match, missing the chance to be promoted and had to wait until this year’s tournament for an opportunity to advance to the B division again.
Silver medallists Russia were impressive throughout the tournament and on the first day of competition won their first three games, scoring 28 goals and conceding just 17. Great Britain also started well on the first day, securing two wins from two, whilst Portugal won one and lost one.
After the tournament’s second day, Russia remained the only undefeated team with five wins and topped the table courtesy of their win over Great Britain.
Joining them in the semi-finals win four wins and one loss were Great Britain and Portugal. Italy claimed the fourth and final spot with a crushing 12-4 win over Bulgaria and a 8-2 victory over Greece.
In the semi-finals Russia defeated Italy 8-5 and Britain defeated Portugal 5-3.
The two teams who dominated throughout the championships were evenly matched in the final. Russia and Great Britain remained tied at five goals apiece at the end of regulation time. The British men were first to secure a goal in extra time, sealing their long-awaited and hard-fought victory.
In the bronze-medal competition, Portugal had a 5-4 lead against Italy at half-time. Portugal then upped their game to run out 9-4 winners to secure bronze.
Russia’s Sergey Avdoshkin was the championship’s top scorer with 23 goals. Croatia's Kristijan Dodig was a close second with 22 goals, despite Croatia’s last-place finish. Greece finished fifth and Bulgaria sixth.
Great Britain, Russia, and Portugal’s men’s teams will now compete at the 2016 IBSA Goalball European Championships Men and Women B along with Poland, Israel, Denmark, and Hungary.
The remaining spots in the B division will be filled by the three teams to finish last at the 2015 IBSA Goalball European Championships Men and Women A, taking place in Lithuania this July. The A-division champion will qualify for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil.