Great Britain women’s goalball squad sixth place finish at an international tournament was a significant step in their ambition to achieve qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Despite losing out in the quarter-finals at the IBSA goalball event in Fort Wayne, the team put together a series of performances of the highest quality that suggest they are ready to compete on the biggest stage.
After beating the likes of Spain, South Korea and Germany, it set up a last eight match against the host nation America. Great Britain fought to the end but were beaten by the eventual runners-up and Rio 2016 bronze medallists.
In the placing matches, Great Britain won a nail-biting penalty shootout against Finland before coming up short against Canada to finally secure sixth place.
Great Britain now look forward to preparing for the European Championships in October taking place in Rostock, Germany. The event represents the last chance to secure their spot at Tokyo 2020.
Aaron Ford, Great Britain’s head coach, said: “This squad is clearly heading in the right direction. We are all confident that we can build on this performance at an event that featured most of the best teams in the world.
“Some of the performances in Fort Wayne were excellent. The team showed great levels maturity and were clinical to see games out. There were setbacks and we need to learn from those if we are to achieve our goal of competing at the Paralympics.
“The group will continue to develop as elite athletes over the coming months and come back even stronger for the European Championship in October.”
Mark Winder, CEO of Goalball UK, said: “It was fantastic to watch the squad against some incredibly strong opposition. We are seeing our talent pathway producing world-class players with this inspiring group.
“Their performance in America was real testament of how much goalball has developed across Great Britain in the last few years. Alongside their talent, they embody the goalball family ethos on and off the court.
“Everyone associated with the sport is incredibly proud of what they have achieved. I know Aaron, his coaching team and the players will have already turned their attentions to Rostock in Germany and will be ready to take the next step.”
The squad consisted of Georgie Bullen, Sarah Leiter, Antonia Bunyan, Amelia Robertson, Kali Holder and Lois Turner. An experienced four-person coaching team joined the players, this was Aaron Ford, Becky Ashworth (coach/team leader), Faith Fisher (physio) and Hannah Levi (support staff).