Several Rio bound goalball teams had a strong tournament this weekend in preparation for the Paralympic Games. Lithuania welcomed Turkey, Belgium, Finland, Canada, Germany, Ukraine, Sweden and the United States to Vilinus, and won their own tournament, with their two teams fielded playing in the final, with Lithuania 2 winning the match 7-4.
Turkey won the bronze match, the European champions defeating Belgium who finished in fourth place. The surprise was the reigning Paralympic champions, Finland, finishing outside the medals in fifth place.
It is hard to know exactly what to take from this tournament and these matches given the nature of the tournament. The matches seemed to be a mix of the teams wanting to get sharp ahead of their trips to Rio but juggling that with not wanting to give anything away to their perspective opponents ahead of such an important tournament.
The Lithuania head coach, Karol Lewicki summed up that feeling the best following the tournament, saying “it is difficult to say how we will perform at the Paralympics based on these results. A friendly event such as this one and the Paralympic Games are completely different competitions.”
Lewicki may now have a larger headache than anticipated, as Lithuania’s phenomenal performance in a difficult tournament has made the selection choices difficult. Both teams made the final and so that gives Lithuania two strong squads worth of players to select one Paralympic Games squad from, but it will boost their confidence as they head off to Rio in September.