Canadian men get goalball bronze, trip to Rio
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Aug 15, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

Canadian men get goalball bronze, trip to Rio

Canada defeated Argentina 13-3 in the third-place game at the Parapan Am Games, earning a spot in the Rio Paralympics


With the stands full of fans in red and white, Canada entered the Mississauga Sports Centre in high spirits Saturday morning against Argentina in the men’s Parapan Am Games bronze medal goalball game. Those fans constantly had to be told to quiet down — the blindfolded athletes need to be able to hear the jangling ball — but riding the crowd’s enthusiasm, Canada easily won the game 13-3, earning a place at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“We knew we had to come in here and a win a game,” Canada’s top scorer, Brendan Gaulin, said after the match. “We came out firing on all cylinders — it was just our day!”

Invented to help rehabilitate blinded World War II veterans, goalball made its Paralympic debut in 1976. In the sport, two teams of three face off against each other on an indoor court with goals stretching across either end. Players score by rolling the ball into their opponent’s net and use their bodies to block the opposing team’s shots. There are two 12 minute halves. Markers on the court help the athletes find their places.

The ball, which has bells in it, is roughly the size and texture of a basketball, albeit heavier and less bouncy. Because athletes may have some vision, eyeshades are worn to level the playing field.

Canada’s win came on the heels of disappointing 3-2 extra time loss to the United States in the semifinals on Friday. Despite this setback, Canada quickly opened Saturday’s match with a goal, bouncing a ball over an Argentine and setting the tone of the game. The Canadians were confidant — they had beaten Argentina 7-2 to open the Parapan Am tournament.

Gaulin, a Laval, Que., native who only has 10 per cent vision, scored six goals Saturday, giving him 20 in the tournament.

“The sound of the crowd today when we walked out on this court was amazing — I couldn’t get enough of it!” said the jubilant 26-year-old, who also studies kinesiology at Simon Fraser University. “Forget every minute . . . every second has been a joyous memory.”

With only a few minutes left on the clock, Canada’s Ahmad Zeividavi rolled a ball past the Argentines, pushing Canada ahead by ten points to force a mercy win.

“I was traumatized after the unfair loss to the U.S.,” Zeividavi, a 29-year-old Vancouver-resident said after the game. “But now we’ve our biggest mission accomplished — we’ve qualified for Rio.”

Canada’s men earned a bronze at the 2011 Parapan Am Games, but performed poorly at the 2012 Paralympics in London, winning just one game.

The Canadian women took bronze here after trouncing Guatemala 11-1 on Friday. The Brazilian women won gold after beating the United States 7-6. On Saturday, the Brazilian men also earned gold, defeating the U.S. 10-4.

Toronto Star

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