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Montenegro’s Nikolic hoping for star turn

Date: March 11, 2021

Category: Goalball

Youngster Nikola Nikolic is full of hope and optimism for Montenegro’s appearance at the postponed International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball European Championships B in Lahti, Finland, in June.

The 23-year-old made a splash six years ago on his debut at the Euros C in Moldova, helping his team make the final.

Nikolic has shown his considerable talent on the world stage by finishing as the second top scorer at the last two championships.

In the 2018 Group B championships, his 28 goal-record impressed, despite it not being enough to keep Montenegro away from relegation. However by the following year, Nikolic had levelled-up his game even further, firing home 44 goals to help his team return to the division above.

Despite the postponement of the 2020 Euros B to 2021, Nikolic is confident Montenegro can challenge for gold – and promotion to the A-pool:

“It is understandable with everything that is happening but I think we will have been very good because we have a very young and prospective team. It’s really important because we want to play in A group next year. Other teams are strong and it will be hard competition.”

With many teams and players in a similar position in terms of training and competition over the last year, Nikolic made a plan to keep fit and focused.

“I used household items as an alternative and exercises with my weight, we used various household items also for exercise, stairs for running, I used a goalball ball to strengthen the wrist.”

A goalball is pictured in a blur as it flies through the air

However, it was difficult to do this on his own and lockdown understandably affected him mentally.

“Lockdown impacted all of us because we couldn’t have full training, for me and everyone else because goalball is a group sport. I am doing my best to improve myself and stay healthy in these hard times. Mentally it is also hard, because we are in fear of Covid-19.”

Having started at such a formative age, Nikolic is aware of the opportunities the goalball has provided him throughout his career.

“It has a positive impact on my life. I have learned a lot from the sport, and travelling, and I met a lot of friends, so much that I would love to work in goalball in the same way after I finish playing.”

The IBSA Goalball European Championships B will take place from 31 May – 7 June and will see teams go for promotion to Group A. If they succeed, their next potential stop could be the 2022 IBSA Goalball World Championships in Hangzhou, China, from 3-15 July.

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