The venue and dates for the Showdown World Championships have been confirmed as the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) announced that Handen, Sweden would host the event in October.
The tournament will be the fifth world championship ever held in the sport, which is not contested at the Paralympic Games. IBSA is contested by athletes with visual impairment and is a cross between table tennis and air hockey, played for those with visual impairments.
The tournament gets under way on October 3rd with the first of two days of sight classification, as the athletes will be assessed to put in the correct classification. From there the tournament will start with October 5th the opening day of competition with the championships being decided on the 7th.
Athletes will have until August 10th to apply for the tournament, with an entry fee of 675 Euros set, which may reflect why the sport is not advancing to the Paralympic Games. Of course it is a world championship, so IBSA will want to restrict the tournament to the best.
That fee will include accommodation and all meals for the athletes throughout the tournament, which makes the tournament fee good value. IBSA will certainly be taking care of the athletes in Handen, and will ferry them from Arlanda airport.
Each country will be limited to a team of a maximum of five competitors, with a split of three men and two women. That gender disparity will mean the men’s tournament will likely have one extra round but that will only happen if full teams attend the event.
Europe dominates the sport with the top 12 in both men and women in the last world championships, in Seoul in 2015 being taken by Europeans. In the women, Finland will have the favourites with an all Finnish final in 2015 with Hanna Vilmi beating Jaana Pesari. On the men’s side Finland is also strong and will be seeking to make the final, which last year was won by Dutchman Leander Sachs and Italian Marco Ferrigno.
In the World Rankings, the Finnish players have slid in the last two years, in the men the highest Finnish player is Ari Lahtinen in third, with Slovenian Peter Zidar leading followed by Italian Luca Liberali. On the women’s side a replay of the final of 2015 with Pesari in second and Vilmi in third in the current world rankings, Polish player Elzbieta tops the women’s ranking and will be looking to break the Finnish domination.