Heading into the 2019 IBSA Goalball and Judo International Qualifier in Fort Wayne, USA, the Australian women’s goalball team, the Belles, is one of the favourites to claim a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
As a group, they are aiming for a gold or silver medal to secure tickets to their third consecutive Paralympic Games and seventh overall.
Double Paralympian Meica Christensen is a key player in the line-up.
“My ultimate goal is to qualify for Tokyo 2020 and if that doesn’t happen in Fort Wayne, I would like to rank as high as we can,” Christensen said. “I personally want to improve on my defensive centre work. I want to be able to control the game better. If the other team can’t score, they can’t win. I plan on doing this by focussing more on defence in training sessions.”
To help them achieve their goals, players have two to three times court sessions a week, and three to five conditioning sessions. Their mental strength is also tested.
“I honestly think it comes down to mental toughness,” she said. “Training every day even when you don’t want to. Pushing through the pain to achieve your goals.”
The 2019 IBSA Goalball and Judo International Qualifier will run from 2-9 July in three venues across the city of Fort Wayne. 13 women’s and 14 men’s teams will compete to secure qualification for Tokyo 2020.
Click here to view the match schedule.
By Madelyn Miles, International Blind Sports Federation