By Sam Harris | For IBSA
China’s Mingyuan Yang is excited by the prospect of his country competing in the 2019 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball Asia-Pacific Championships where victory could secure a place at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
The Championships are being held in Chiba, Japan, from 5-10 December – the same city that will host goalball during next year’s Paralympics.
Yang said: “The Paralympic Games is the top sports gathering in the world. It is the dream of every player to participate in the game. Playing in Tokyo 2020 will make us feel excited and honoured representing our country.”
In Chiba the Chinese will be looking to defend their title from 2017 when they defeated Iran 10-2 in the final in an impressive tournament for Yang, who scored 10 goals.
The 18-year-old is seen as a rising star and these Championships are another platform to showcase his talents. He feels a strong showing at the Paralympics could help him fulfill his undoubted potential.
However according to coach Shiqiang Yin, the men’s team will have to be especially wary of a strong Iran side, who will surely pose the biggest threat.
But Yin is encouraged by the bigger picture as a result of impressive performances at various Championships from his team.
He feels success in Chiba could continue and even boost participation in goalball throughout the country. In turn this could lead to an even stronger pool of players to pick from for future regional Championships and Paralympics.
Yin explained: “Goalball is mainly practiced in schools for the visually impaired students in China, it's a good way for exercise and physical training.”
He also outlined the large number of people taking part in the sport currently: “There are 17 local teams all over China with many of them training frequently every year. The national team will select the best players from the local teams.”
With goalball being so popular it is no surprise to see both China’s men and women teams win medals at recent Paralympics.
The men were triumphant on home soil at Beijing 2008 but the women could not make it a double as they had to settle for silver. They also missed out on the big prize in the subsequent 2012 and 2016 Paralympics in London and Rio de Janeiro, again finishing runners-up.
The 2019 IBSA Goalball Asia-Pacific Championships take place from 5-10 December. Entry is free for spectators.
Competition results and schedules can be found at the official website: https://www.gb-aprc.com/