By Rosanna Haroutounian | For the IPC
Brazil’s men’s goalball team has already stamped their tickets to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. But that doesn’t mean they’re taking the 2015 Toronto Parapan American Games – a qualifier for the Paralympics – lightly.
For Brazilian goalball standout Rosario Marques, the competition, which runs 7-15 August in Toronto, Canada, presents a different kind of challenge.
“The Parapan American Games are important because we will have the chance to assess our young players and mix them with experienced guys,” said Marques, who helped Brazil capture silver in the London 2012 Games as well as the gold at the IBSA Goalball World Championships.
“If we can keep ourselves together, we will pull it (gold medal) off,” he added about Toronto 2015.
This will be Marques’ second time competing in the Parapan American Games. The feeling will be much different than when he entered the 2011 Parapan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, as Brazil felt the pressure to qualify for London 2012. However, the team managed to win gold. USA won silver and Mexico bronze in the men’s competition. In the women’s competition, USA won gold, Brazil won silver and Canada claimed bronze.
“When you talk about competition, you get an athlete excited,” Marques said. “It is pretty good to be active and able to play, so I am really pumped with the chance to win back-to back titles.”
Marques said the USA and Canada will be Brazil’s toughest competitions in this year’s race for gold.
“The United States was third in the world, while Canada has an experienced group of guys, with a good pace of play,” he said.
In goalball, the top three men's teams (Brazil, Finland and USA) and the top three women's teams (USA, Russia and Turkey) from the 2014 IBSA Goalball World Championships have already qualified for the Paralympics. The top team from each IBSA goalball region – the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia/Pacific – will also qualify. If Brazil or the USA wins gold at the Parapan Am Games, the silver medalists will claim a spot at the Paralympic Games – or bronze medalists if these teams claim the top two spots.
About 1,600 para-athletes representing 28 countries will participate in the Parapan Am Games, with 15 sports being featured, a record for the competition which is in its fifth edition.
Tickets are now available and can be purchased at the event website