Following success at May’s IBSA World Games, the Lithuanian men’s and Israeli women’s team are expected to be hard to beat when the 2015 IBSA Goalball European Championships, Men and Women A get underway this week (7 July).
Ten teams from the men and women’s sides will battle for the regional titles in Kaunas, Lithuania, as round-robin matches take place Wednesday and Thursday (8 -9 July); ranking matches follow the next day.
Lithuania beat China 10-3 for the men’s World Games title. They enter as the highest ranked team at No. 2 in the world, with the Czech Republic, who are ranked sixth, most likely their biggest hurdle in pool A. World No. 14 side Sweden, however, will look to show their bronze medal win at the World Games was no fluke. Germany and Slovenia are also in the same pool.
World No. 4 side Turkey, whom Sweden defeated in the World Games, lead the way in the men’s pool B and are grouped with World No. 5 Finland, No. 9 Spain, Belgium and Ukraine.
In the women’s competition, the World No. 8 Israeli team won their first gold at a major tournament in Seoul, South Korea, in the final match against China. Israel hope to make it out of pool Y, which includes World No. 6 Turkey, Ukraine, Spain and Greece. World No. 7 Russia are ranked the highest in pool X, which features Finland, Germany, Denmark and Sweden.
Finals take place on 11 July, when the medals will be awarded and the top team from both the men’s and women’s competitions will qualify for Rio 2016.
In total, 10 goalball teams from each of the men and women’s sides will get to go to the Paralympics. So far Brazil, Finland and USA have already qualified on the men’s side as a result of the 2014 IBSA World Championships. Meanwhile, women’s goalball teams from USA, Russia and Turkey have also qualified. Brazil’s women’s team has a spot as Paralympic host nation.
The top team from each IBSA goalball region – the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia/Pacific – will also qualify.
The Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games (7-15 August) will decide the regional champion from the Americas region. The 2015 IBSA Asia/Pacific Goalball Championships will be held in November in Hangzhou, China, followed by the African Championships in Algeria later in the same month.
The top three ranked men's teams and the top two ranked women's teams from the World Games each obtained one qualification slot for their National Paralympic Committee. The ranking will be used to qualify teams for remaining spots at Rio once all the regional championships have taken place. The top three men’s teams and top two women’s teams at Seoul who do not qualify as a result of regional championships will be granted spots.
Live stream of the 2015 IBSA Goalball European Championships can be found here for the men’s games and here for the women’s.
Also visit the event website for more information on the championships.