The Australian women’s goalball team have scored a tough draw for the pool rounds of next week’s IBSA Goalball World Championships in Espoo, Finland, facing three teams ranked higher on the world standings than themselves.
The Australians, who are ranked number 10 in the world, will face their toughest opposition against the world number two ranked China, as well as number five ranked Sweden and number seven ranked Brazil. The remaining pool games will all be played against lower ranked teams including Israel (11th) and Ukraine (18th).
With the goal of a top four pool placing in order to progress through to the quarterfinals, Australia will field the same team who competed at the London 2012 Paralympics, including London goal scorers Meica Horsburgh and Nicole Esdaile, as well as New South Wales trio Jenny Blow, Tyan Taylor and Michelle Rzepecki, and South Australian Rachel Henderson.
Known as the Belles, the women’s team were the first Australian goalball team to qualify for the Paralympic Games since Atlanta 1996 and now into their second Games cycle as a team, are focused on securing a place at the Games in Rio 2016. The gold, silver and bronze medallists at the World Championships will receive automatic Games qualification, with the remaining qualification opportunities through regional competitions.
Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) Senior Manager of Performance, Alison Campbell says the team are hoping to put some wins on the board in the pool rounds and ultimately improve their world ranking.
“Although we have a very good pool draw, the level of competition across both pools is very high and it will be a tough battle between the best teams in the world to finish in the top three,” she said.
“Australia is relatively new on the international goalball scene and our girls will be up against it to qualify for Rio at the World Championships, but we have several great opportunities to get some victories and improve as a team in Espoo.”
Australia will play its opening game against Brazil on Monday 30 June, followed by Israel, China, and Ukraine.
The IBSA Goalball World Championships will take place in Espoo, Finland from 30 June – 5 July 2014.
Australian Women’s Goalball Team
Meica Horsburgh (c)
Coach: Peter Corr
Monday 30 June – Australia v Brazil
Tuesday 1 July – Australia v Israel
Wednesday 2 July – Australia v China
Thursday 3 July – Australia v Ukraine
Friday 4 July – quarterfinals and semi-finals
Saturday 5 July – Bronze & Gold medal matches
By APC Media