What to watch in 2020: Goalball’s Paralympic year
Date: February 20, 2020
The Paralympic year is now in full swing as teams complete the final countdown to Tokyo 2020.
There is plenty for fans to follow between now and 25 August when the Paralympics get underway at Makuhari Messe.
Teams from around the world will be looking to put the finishing touches to their preparations at some of the most well-established competitions on the international goalball calendar.
2020 IBSA Goalball African Championships, Port Said, Egypt
This is the last qualifier for Tokyo 2020 and will take place between 1-5 March.
With one male and one female slot up for grabs, competition is expected to be hot.
Hosts Egypt will be looking to make their mark. Their men’s team will try to qualify for their first Paralympics since 1992 whilst their women are looking to make their Paralympic debut.
The Algerian men are one of the most prolific teams from Africa with three Paralympics under their belts. The women competed for the first time in 2016.
2020 International Trakai Goalball Tournament, Trakai, Lithuania, 2-5 April
Lithuania has long been a hotbed of goalball. However since the national men’s side finally won gold at Rio 2016 after two silver medals previously, their fortunes have been varied.
A disappointing 2018 Worlds which saw them miss the podium meant they needed to have a good 2019 in order to qualify for the next Paralympics. They managed to triumph at the 2019 IBSA Goalball International Qualifier to give themselves the best chance.
Other men’s teams expected in Trakai include current high flyers Ukraine, Rio 2016 silver medallists the USA, Finland, Great Britain and Israel.
In the women’s, Paralympic bronze medallists the USA, France and Spain will line-up.
Another tournament to watch in Lithuania will be the International Men’s Goalball Tournament in Vilnius from 23-26 July. With organisers hoping to attract 10 of the best teams, the competition will be one of biggest and last for the men ahead of Tokyo 2020.
2020 Malmo Intercup, Malmo, Sweden, 21-25 May
An astonishing 26 men’s and women’s teams are expected to compete in Malmo at what has become one of the biggest goalball competitions in the world outside of the official calendar.
Entries include Paralympic champions Lithuania, European title-holders Germany and world champions Brazil in the men’s. In the women’s Asian gold medallists and Tokyo 2020 hosts Japan as well as world champions Russia will make the journey.
A host of other major Championships medallist will also contest the trophy.
The 2020 Malmo Intercup is therefore likely to offer a great insight into who is in top form ahead of the Paralympics.
Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games
Whilst the final list of qualifiers is not known, we do now know the majority of countries who will line-up in Tokyo.
Both Germany and Belgium could disrupt the men’s competition as sides that have had some great results since the last Paralympics.
Ukraine are also on the rise. Having been promoted to the A-Pool in 2018, the team left the most recent European Championships with silver and in doing so qualified for their first Paralympics.
In the women’s, Turkey have been building on their first Paralympic title and are the reigning European title-holders. Brazil stepped onto their first Worlds podium in 2018, whilst European silver medallists Israel are well-known for their brutally quick attacks.
Tokyo 2020 is set to be a vintage Paralympics for goalball.