Former world champions China have reported a ‘harmonious and active’ atmosphere in the women’s team as they prepare for the 2018 IBSA Goalball World Championships in Malmo, Sweden.
Team coach Zhang Xiaopeng and top player Wang Chunhua are getting ready for the World Championships which will also act as a qualifier for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“It’s really our honour to be in the competition, and we are also excited to represent China,” Xiaopeng said. “We will well prepare for sure.”
Since winning gold at the 2010 World Championships, China have had varying performances at the highest levels. They lost to Japan in the final at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and finished out of the medals at the 2014 Worlds in Espoo, Finland. They returned to the podium once again at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, claiming silver.
Those ups and downs are a distant memory for Chunhua who says the feeling in the team is “warm and sweet, we are like a family.”
According to Xiaopeng, China are targeting a podium finish in Malmo. To do that they are following a structured training programme with everyone expected to pull their weight.
“We are training according the planned schedule,” Xiaopeng said. “All our players are strictly required to complete the training tasks.”
China will face a tough group when they open their campaign on 8 June. Defending champions the USA, Canada, Algeria, Greece and Brazil join them in group D.
What are their tactics going into the most important competition on the calendar?
“Defend well, control and play the game at our own pace. Our team maintains an enthusiasm for the incoming games, and the atmosphere is harmonious and active.”
The 2018 IBSA Goalball World Championships run from 3-8 June. Featuring 28 of the world’s best men’s and women’s teams, it is the first major stop on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Media accreditation, tickets, the full competition schedule and more information about Malmo 2018, is available here.
Image credit: OIS Photos