2010 Canadian Blind Sports National Goalball Championships Underway in

Great competition expected as top athletes compete for spots on the Canadian Teams for the 2010 IBSA Goalball World Championships

CALGARY, March 26 /CNW/ - With the wildly successful 2010 Paralympic Games concluded, and spring quickly approaching, the spotlight returns to Paralympic Summer Sport and the 2010 Canadian Blind Sports National Goalball Championships. Hosted by the Alberta Sports and Recreation for the Blind (ASRAB), the event begins today Friday March 26th and runs through Sunday, March 28th at the Calgary French and International School in Calgary, Alberta. 11 teams from 6 Provinces will compete in both men's and women's brackets for the 2010 National Championship Titles.

The first 2 Canadian Tournaments of the 2010 season proved very competitive with hometown men's teams Quebec and Alberta winning the Quebec Blind Sports Association's (ASAQ) Montreal Open Goalball Tournament and ASRAB's Western Goalball Championships respectively. On the women's side, Ontario displayed their dominance by winning both gold and silver in an all-Ontario final at the Montreal Open, while Team BC won the title at the Western Goalball Championships.

At the 2010 National Goalball Championships there are 6 teams from Alberta, BC, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec. Hometown Alberta is the defending champion, however 2 of the 4 veterans that helped Alberta capture both the 2009 National Championships and 2010 Western Championships have retired, so it is now up to the young players to display their skills and hold their own against the best in the country.

Last year's silver medalists were Team Quebec, who won the 2008 Championship, and will be looking to build off their first-ever win at the Montreal Open and get back on top of the podium. Anchored by Team Canada standout, and all-time-Paralympic-leading-goal-scorer Mario Caron, and rounded out by Team Canada members from the 2009 IBSA Pan American Games Bruno Haché and Simon Tremblay, they are always a threat.

Last year's bronze medalists, the Ontario All-Blacks, and last year's 4th place squad from BC have had a great rivalry of late playing for gold at last year's Montreal Open and bronze at last year's National Championships. Ontario ultimately won the bronze in dramatic sudden-death-extra-throws last year, but BC got the upper hand at this year's Montreal Open by winning bronze while Ontario finished 5th. Both teams have the ability to threaten for gold, and will likely once again face-off in an important match in the playoffs on Sunday.

Last year Nova Scotia bested Manitoba in the 5th vs 6th relegation game. Nova Scotia will look to build off a solid 7th place finish at the 14 team Michigan tournament, while Manitoba will look to continue to improve as they played much stronger by the end of the Western Championships.

On the women's side, Ontario 1 has been extremely dominant of late winning the last 2 National Championships and last 2 Montreal Opens, and certainly enter the tournament as the team to beat. Featuring 3 current National Team members from the Canadian Team that won silver at the 2009 IBSA Pan American Games in Colorado Springs, Ontario 1 cruised to the 2009 National Title going undefeated while outscoring their opponents 74 - 14.

The other teams in the women's bracket feature last year's bronze medalists from BC, Team Alberta, Ontario 2, and Team Quebec. BC and Ontario 2 enter the tournament with confidence after winning the Western Championships and the silver medal at the Montreal Open respectively. Team Quebec features one of the top women's throwers in the world, Nancy Morin, who was a big part of last year's silver medalists Team Canada-East. Finally, there is the young Alberta team, who won last year's 2009 Canadian Blind Sports Junior Goalball Championships for athletes 20 and under, and will be looking to draw on the hometown crowd support as take the next step and challenge the very best players in Canada.

Besides besting their provincial rivals, the top players have a little extra motivation this year as they vie for spots on the National Teams that will represent Canada at the 2010 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball World Championships in Sheffield, England in June. The Canadian Women are the defending World Champions from 2006 and will enter the tournament intent on defending their title and qualifying for the 2012 London Paralympics in the process. The Canadian men are ranked 5th in the world in a sport played by nearly 100 countries, and will be headed to Worlds with some new players as they look to improve their ranking and pre-qualify for London as well.

The 2010 Canadian Blind Sports National Goalball Championships is open to the general public and media. Games run from 10:00 am to 6:15 pm on Friday March 26th, 9:30 am to 6:30 pm on Saturday March 27th, and begin at 8:30 am with the men's gold medal scheduled to start at 2:30 pm on Sunday March 28th. All games are at the Calgary French and International School, 700 - 77 Street SW, Calgary, AB.

Results will be available daily, and a final recap of all the action will be available at the tournaments end at www.canadianblindsports.ca.

More information about the Paralympic Sport of Goalball is available at www.canadianblindsports.ca with a short promo video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Sjoe5yD7TI.

Canadian Blind Sports is the recognized national sports organization for Goalball in Canada and advocates within the sport system on behalf of Canadians who are blind/visually impaired.

Goalball is a fast-paced, Paralympic sport played by athletes who have a visual impairment or who are blind. Played three on three, on a volley-ball size court, players track the ball by sound as they throw and defend blistering shots upwards of 80 kilometers per hour.

For more information on the Canadian Blind Sports Association please visit: www.canadianblindsports.ca.


For further information: For further information: Matt Morrow, Canadian Blind Sports, Participation Director, Communications (604) 812-6786 mobile, (604) 410-0480 office, matt@canadianblindsports.ca

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