The 2018 IBSA Goalball World Championships in Malmo, Sweden, delivered medals for Brazil, Russia, Turkey, Belgium and Germany and tickets for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
With 16 men’s and 12 women’s teams it was a highly competitive tournament that delivered some great moments.
Here are just five of the best from the competition, aside from the gold medal matches, which took place between 3-8 June.
The Brazilian Special
When Ana Carolina Duarte Custodio lined-up for her first shot in Brazil’s opening game against China, no one expected what happened next.
The Brazilian held the ball, moved a few paces forward, turned around, jumped into the air and powered the ball between her legs. This under-used shot in goalball is one of the most physical that can be played – and is one that Duarte Custodio almost exclusively uses.
It worked out well with Brazil’s women’s team making it into the bronze medal match against Canada. Duarte Custodio scored four of her team’s seven goals to claim the final podium place and best ever finish. She also ended in the top five women’s scorers with 22 goals.
“The first time that I stepped onto the goalball court, this was my first throw,” Duarte Custodio said when asked about the origins of the throw. “I tried the front throwing but this is for me the strongest, fastest ball and where I can reach all the targets on the court. So for me it is more efficient than the front way.”
Sevda Altunoluk is a crucial part of Turkey’s attack and Malmo 2018 was no different.
The 24-year-old was the overall tournament top-scorer with 46 goals. That was two more than Brazil’s Leomon Moreno on the men’s side. Her aggressive throwing style is almost impossible to stop.
German persistence pays off
The German men’s team entered Malmo 2018 as one of the youngest sides and considered themselves to be a developing team.
So when they progressed past the group stages with just one loss, beating the likes of 2014 bronze medallists the USA, and made it into the final, they surprised even themselves.
Defending champions Brazil were their opponents for gold. With the score level at half-time it was only one penalty shot that changed the game and Germany lost 8-3. But their silver is their best finish since they won the title in Calgary, Canada, in 1990.
Strong performances came from Michael Feistle, with his lightning quick shot down the wing resulting in 34 goals overall. Oliver Horauf was close behind with 31.
Caption: Michael Feistle goes to make a save for Germany, with his teammates and coaches looking anxious.
Belgium regain confidence
After the heartache of missing out of qualification for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Belgium were determined not to let a Tokyo 2020 spot slip through their fingers. They emerged from the group stages unbeaten and the beat Iran 8-1 to face Germany in the semi-finals.
Despite losing they still had a chance to grab the last Paralympic berth in the bronze medal match. There was just the small matter of having to beat Paralympic champions Lithuania.
Bruno Vanhove, Klisen Mapreni and Rob Ejissen all found the back of the net in their 9-2 win to take bronze – and reach their dream of competing at the Paralympics.
With full live coverage online and on social media, Malmo 2018 reached the largest audience in the history of goalball World Championships.
On Facebook, posts between the Opening Ceremony on 31 May and 9 June reached more than 96,000 people.
The same number viewed tweets and the sport’s new Instagram account, launched just before the Championships, reached almost 23,000 people.
The live coverage was also viewed 28,000 times by people around the world.
There was 130,237 visits to the most popular pages at www.wcg18.se since January 2017 and the dedicated competition page reached 42,000 people during the competition.
The next major international goalball tournament will be the 2018 IBSA Goalball European Championships B in Chorzow, Poland, from 22-30 September.