For the second consecutive edition, Brazil fought for the bronze medal in women’s goalball in the Paralympics. As in Rio, the Brazilians entered the court at dawn this Friday, early afternoon in Tokyo, with the weight of history in their hands. The opponents, this time, were none other than the mistresses of the house. Overcome in the semifinals, Japan recovered from the defeat to Turkey and secured third place in this edition by winning 6-1, finding the way to the podium almost ten years later.
Brazil says goodbye to the Tokyo Paralympics with fourth place in women’s goalball — Photo: Alê Cabral/CPB
If on the one hand Brazil entered with the weight of making history on the court, Japan carried the mission of finding the way to the podium again. Champions at the London Paralympics in 2012, the hosts dealt better with the pressure, and opened the scoring in the first four minutes, with two goals from Eiko Kakehata. Then expanded with Norika Hagiwara, the competition’s second top scorer, with ten goals. The script for the first confrontation between the teams, in the first phase, was repeated.
Jéssica Gomes performing in women’s goalball — Photo: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
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Halfway through the first half, Brazil rediscovered defensive security and reacted. Victoria sent the ball into the crossbar, but it was Japan that hit the net for the fourth time, with Hagiwara, in a penalty kick committed by Victoria herself. In the last minute, Kakehata scored his third goal in the match. There was still time for Japan to waste a penalty, saved by Ana Carolina.
Ana Gabriely defends for Brazil in women’s goalball — Photo: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
In the second stage, Ana Carolina continued as one of the highlights of Brazil in defense, while Victoria Amorim threatened the Japanese. In penalty kick, six minutes in, Victoria returned to insisting on the parallel balls, but ended up wasting the charge. Hagiwara tried to show that the fate of “who doesn’t do it, takes it” also works in goalball, and noted the sixth Japanese goal.
The match also had a tribute to Rie Urata, 44, the biggest name in the national team, who participated in the victory in the final minutes. She was also present at the Japanese conquest almost a decade ago. After so much insistence, Victoria Amorim, finally, reduced the score, with less than two minutes to go, giving final numbers to the dispute.
Japan performing in women’s goalball in Tokyo — Photo: REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo
Goalball is the only sport exclusively for athletes with disabilities. Despite having been among the four finalists for two editions, Brazil never reached the podium among women. The greatest achievements of the women’s team were bronze at the World Cup in Sweden, in 2018, in addition to the Parapan American titles in Toronto, in 2015, and Lima, in 2019.
It was the second game between the teams after the draw in the first phase. Since then, country trajectories have been similar in Tokyo. Both members of group D, Japan added one more victory than Brazil, who scored 28 goals, one more. In the quarterfinals, the housewives overthrew Israel, vice leader of group C, while the Brazilians defeated none other than China, one of the favorites for gold, silver in two of the last three editions. In the semifinals, however, the hosts were overtaken by Turkey, current champions, 8-5, while the Green-Yellow team lost to the United States 5-4 on penalties. Turks and North Americans measure forces for gold from 5:45 am (GMT).
Brazil still fights for gold in men’s
With fourth place guaranteed among women, Brazil is still fighting for a medal this Friday, starting at 7:30 am (GMT), in men’s. After dispatching Lithuania, champions at Rio 2016, the Brazilians, current two-time world champions, are going in search of unprecedented gold against China. The match will be broadcast live on SportTV 2.