- Date: 02-07-2019
- Related to: Goalball
Asya Miller – one of her teams most experienced athletes – will be one of the key players on the USA women’s goalball team going for gold and Tokyo 2020 Paralympic qualification at their home International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball and Judo International Qualifier in Fort Wayne from 2-9 July.
Miller has been playing goalball for two decades and has been on the squad for five Paralympic Games. Her record includes a bronze medal from the last Paralympics in Rio 2016 as well as one gold and a silver. The US team top the overall Paralympic medal standings with seven podium finishes, including two titles.
Miller’s presence is as crucial as ever heading into Fort Wayne 2019 and she is ready to make history at the home of US Goalball:
“It is our goal to qualify for Tokyo 2020. As well as to win the tournament. And then prepare for the next Paralympics.”
Miller and her teammates have been training hard for moments like this week. They practice and do strength and conditioning five days a week at the exceptional facilities at the Turnstone Centre for Adults and Children with Disabilities – one of the venues for the International Qualifier.
Turnstone is also a US Paralympics Centre of Excellence for goalball. In 2015 the United States Association of Blind Athletes started a residency programme there to build the next generation of goalball athletes.
“Those of us who do not live there [Fort Wayne] train on our own, but spend extra time at the goalball centre of excellence to train with everyone else,” says Miller. “Athletes can come [to the Goalball Center of Excellence] and improve their global skills. This helps the younger and newer athletes rise to a higher level of competition in a shorter amount of time.”
For Miller, who has been key in inspiring the next generation, her greatest moment came at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games when the US won gold after a stunning performance against hosts China. Miller scored all six goals.
Besides all of the practicing and hard work that she puts into the sport, Miller attributes her greatness to coming from an athletic family.
“I like the challenge and the ability to be successful in this sport,” said Miller.
At this point in her career, she feels that the best way to stay successful is to maintain her health and well-being by always searching for new techniques.
While hosting the 2019 International Qualifier is “convenient” for the US, according to Miller, she said that “we also want to host a good event that all teams will enjoy.”
The 2019 IBSA Goalball and Judo International Qualifier will feature 13 women’s teams and 14 men’s teams. The USA will play their first game against Denmark at Indiana Tech on Tuesday (2 July). Turnstone will also host the men’s competitions.
The gold and silver medallists from Fort Wayne 2019 will punch their tickets to Tokyo 2020.
Judoka from around the world will also compete to improve their place in the world rankings towards qualification.
The competition is being shown live at the IBSA Goalball and Judo Facebook pages and IBSA’s YouTube channel.