As the 2018 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball World Championships concluded in Malmo, Sweden, here are five talking points about the sport’s biggest event outside the Paralympic Games.
The men’s team retained the title from four years ago in Espoo, Finland, after beating Germany 8-3 in the final. It extends a dominant era for Brazil, who have reached the podium of every major competition since the London 2012 Paralympics.
It was also an historic performance in Malmo for the women’s team who claimed bronze, their best finish at a World Championships, by beating Canada 7-2.
The Brazilian men aside, it has been impossible to predict who wins in goalball’s major tournaments in recent years.
While Brazil claimed back to back men’s world titles, it was Finland who took Paralympic gold in 2012, and Lithuania at Rio 2016.
On the women´s side four different teams have won the last four major international tournaments, with Japan (London 2012) and Turkey (Rio 2016) claiming Paralympic titles, while USA (Espoo 2014) and Russia* (Malmo 2018) have won the World Championships.
USA women humbled
The US women's team had high hopes of defending their world title from 2014, especially after securing bronze at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
But they were thrashed by Paralympic champions Turkey in the quarter finals with 10 goals from Sevda Altunoluk, meaning they missed out on the podium altogether.
No podium for Paralympic champions
The Lithuanian men’s team qualified for the quarter finals after finishing second to Belgium in group A. They went on to beat USA 7-4 to reach the semi-finals, and it looked like they could complete a Paralympic and world title double.
But Brazil were to break Lithuanian hearts, narrowly winning 7-6 to advance to the final and end their title hopes. The agonising defeat proved too difficult to recover from, and a 9-2 defeat by Belgium in the battle for bronze saw them end without a medal.
Once a powerhouse on both the men's and women's international scenes, Sweden have taken a step backwards these past years. Malmo 2018 seemed to be the perfect opportunity for them to make the headlines again. But they failed.
The men’s team, led by veteran Fatmir Seremeti, was the one that made it the furthest. They reached the quarter-finals, where they lost to eventual champions Brazil.
As for the women’s team, they finished last in group C and did not advance to the next round.
Full results from the 2018 Goalball World Championships are available at www.wcg18.se.
*Editor's note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 2016 for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games.
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