May 12, 2016

U.S. Men’s Goalball Team Gains New Perspective from Rio Test Events

By: Amanda Weldon

The U.S. Men’s Goalball National Team traveled to Rio de Janeiro to compete in two tournaments at Future Arena, the venue to be used later this year during the Paralympic Games. The tournaments served as an opportunity for the Rio 2016 local organizing committee to assess the functionality of the facility as well as a test run for volunteers, victory ceremony logistics and technical procedures, and gave teams a chance to give the check out the venue for themselves.

Team USA was one of four teams invited to compete at the official Rio 2016 Goalball Test Event May 4-5. The local organizing committee also invited national teams from Finland, Lithuania and Brazil. Each team finished as the top four teams at the 2014 IBSA World Goalball Championships. After training at the venue the morning after they arrived, the U.S. men’s team played Brazil, Finland and Lithuania in a single round robin format. The two teams that emerged with the most points from pool play would meet in the final.

After a tie with Finland, the U.S. team fell to Brazil and Lithuania to finish fourth in the first tournament.

“All of the teams were good,” said U.S. team player Matt Simpson. “Though our results on paper were not what we wanted them to be, we came here with bigger ends in mind than just winning one or two tournaments.”

“For us, the primary focus was for the athletes to explore the floor, get used to the layout and sounds of the venue, experience Brazilian crowds and experience the rigid protocols of Paralympic competition,” said U.S. Association of Blind Athletes’ Goalball High-Performance Director, John Potts. “We also wanted all the players to get as much time on the court as possible so we could set training baselines and adjust based on how the floor worked.”

Adjustments were made for the tournament that followed. On Saturday, competition continued in Future Arena with the 2016 Rio Open Men’s Goalball Event with two additional teams (Sweden and Turkey) added to the roster. After two days of practice in the venue, Team USA was already implementing adjustments based on experience at the initial test event and finished the Rio Open tournament with silver.

“It was a great experience overall,” said U.S. player Joseph Hamilton. “As far as goalball, it gave us an opportunity to play on the Paralympic floor that we’ll be playing on in September.”

The U.S. Men’s Goalball National Team is leaving Brazil with a better understanding of how to prepare for the Paralympic Games in September.

“We’ll also need to be ready for the buzz – the pressure of performing on the international stage and being able to focus despite things like crowd noise and warm temperatures,” added Hamilton.

The men’s team returned stateside this week to continue training. Many of the National Team players, including Simpson, train full-time with the USABA Goalball Resident Program at Turnstone in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

U.S. Men’s and Women’s Goalball National Teams will compete with 14 different countries for gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.











Pictured: U.S. Men's National Team group photo at awards for the Rio Open May 6-9. All six players have their silver medals around their necks as they stand with Coach Matthew Boyle and John Potts on each side. Photo courtesy of Bruno Miani.CBDV.Inovafoto.

Mar 21, 2016

U.S. Men’s Goalball Brings Home SILVER and BRONZE from Vancouver Grand Slam

By: Courtney Patterson 

U.S Men’s Goalball stood strong against the competition this weekend at the Vancouver Goalball Grand Slam. The tournament brought together 8 teams from 3 countries for 20 goalball games starting Friday, March 18. The U.S. men split into two teams (USA 1 and USA 2) to take on British Columbia, Finland, Quebec, Alberta and hosts, Vancouver. Team USA 1’s roster was comprised of Joe Hamilton, John Kusku, Tyler Merren, Daryl Walker and Coach Matthew Boyle. Team USA 2’s roster included Andy Jenks, Abel Del Toro, Grej Pesjaka, Matt Simpson and Coach Mike Legé.

USA 2 remained undefeated after the first day of competition but fell to their first lost against reigning World Champions, Finland on the second day of the tournament. USA 1 went into playoffs as a number one seed. The two USA teams met in semifinals after beating Vancouver and British Columbia in the quarterfinals. The game would determine which USA team would play for GOLD and which would fight for BRONZE.

Coach Mike Legé’s team, USA 2, won and advanced to the gold medal game against Finland. Though the game was tied before the half, Finland pulled ahead (7-5) and kept the lead to win GOLD (9-6).

“The rematch against Finland was a better played game then the first time in pool play.  The match was close until the last 3 minutes of the game.  It was good experience for our younger players to play against such a quality team” said Coach Lege’. “I was disappointed that our #1 team did not get to play Finland but they did finish strong in the bronze match.”

Coach Matthew Boyle’s team USA 1 beat Alberta 12-2 to secure BRONZE for Team USA.

“This was the first tournament of its kind with prize money. I hope in the future more teams from Europe will attend. The tournament organizer put on a very well run tournament and the venue was excellent; hats off to BC for a job well done.”

As the first annual Vancouver Grand Slam hosted by the Vancouver Goalball Club, all 8 teams competed for the chance to win GOLD. As if winning gold wasn’t enough, the winning team was also awarded a grand sum of $5,000 as a prize money award. During the tournament, all games were broadcast by Disability Sports Radio including the final game that left Finland prevailing to win GOLD and the grand prize money. 








Left to right: Coach Matthew Boyle, Daryl Walker, John Kusku, Tyler Merren, Joe Hamilton.

Mar 16, 2016

USABA Tandem Cycling Teams Compete in 2016 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships

By: Amanda Weldon

This weekend, the world’s best Paralympic track cyclists will gather together for the 2016 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Montichiari, Italy. The event will host 174 athletes from 32 countries and will give riders a final chance to compete against the best before they cross paths again this September at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

In Montichiari, two USABA tandem teams will compete among 18 athletes representing Team USA at this year’s World Championships. Both USABA stokers are U.S. Army veterans and alumni of USABA Cycling Development Camps.

U.S. Army active duty Chester Triplett (Mooresville, N.C.) will be riding with his pilot, Kyle Knott (Virginia Beach, Va.). Triplett was introduced to track cycling at a USABA cycling development camp in 2009. Since the camp, Triplett has won numerous medals and recently won GOLD in the kilo and pursuit final at the U.S. Paralympic Track Cycling Open in February.

Helicopter armament specialist Shawn Cheshire (Camillus, N.Y.) will also be competing with her pilot, Mackenzie Woodring (Lowell, Mich.), this weekend. After attending a USABA cycling development camp in 2012, Cheshire quickly picked up the sport. After just 6 months of training, Cheshire and Woodring won SILVER at their first race in February 2013. Now, three years later, they are competing in their third UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships as a team.

The World Championships are the last opportunity for track cyclists to perform before the Paralympic selection process concludes on March 27th. Once the qualification procedure is complete, points will be tallied for each nation and UCI, in partnership with the IPC, will allocate each country their number of spots for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games less than 6 months away.

Live coverage and race highlights will be available via livestream, courtesy of Italy's ITRAI channel at the following times:

Thursday, March 17 – live from 1:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. (EST)

Friday, March 18 – recorded highlights from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. (EST)

Saturday, March 19 – recorded highlights from 10:00 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. (EST)

Sunday, March 20 – 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. (EST)

More information on the UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships can be found on the UCI’s website. You can also follow the event on Facebook and Twitter (@UCI_Paracycling) and by using the hashtag #PARACYCLING2016.








Pictured: All 18 USA Track Cyclist who will be competing in the 2016 UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships standing together.

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