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History

Early days of goalball


Goalball was invented in 1946 by Austrian Hanz Lorenzen and German Sepp Reindle, in an effort to help in the rehabilitation of blinded war veterans.

During the 1950s and 1960s the game evolved into a more competitive sport as players became more skilled in attacking and defending, finding new ways to push the boundaries.

The Paralympics


Goalball got its Paralympic breakthrough during Heidelberg 1972 where it featured as a demonstration sport.

It proved to be an attractive addition to the programme and it went on to make its official debut at the Toronto 1976 Paralympic Games.

Initially only men’s teams played with Austria winning the very first Paralympic title after a 4-2 win over West Germany. Denmark took bronze.

A player holds a goalball in his hands

Transforming into a high performance sport

In 1978 the first World Championships were held in Voecklamarkt, Austria – a fitting location to recognise one of the founders of the sport.

Once again it was only the men who contested the title with West Germany, Austria and Denmark making the podium.

However by the next edition in 1982 in Indianapolis, USA, the women got their shot on gold. The USA claimed the crown.

Transforming into a high performance sport

After a decade of progress, goalball was now ready to expand its influence around the globe.

Greve, Denmark, staged the first ever European Championships in 1983. This time both genders got to make history at the same time with Austria and Denmark winning the respective men’s and women’s competitions.

In 1984 in New York the transformation of goalball into a truly worldwide, inclusive sport was complete when a women’s medal event was added to the Paralympics. The USA won gold on home soil after a North American clash with rivals Canada. Denmark picked up third place.

It was also during the 1980s that the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) was founded. IBSA took over the governance of goalball after its establishment in 1981.

A global game


Following on from the first world and European Championships, like many other team sports it took some time for goalball to expand into other regions.

The Americas were the next to develop, hosting the inaugural IBSA Goalball Americas Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2005. Canada and the USA topped the respective men’s and women’s standings.

Guangzhou, China, followed in 2010 with the first Asia-Pacific Championships. Hosts China reached double delight with both men’s and women’s golds.

The first African Championships were held in Algiers, Algeria, in 2016. Once again it was the host country which secured the title in both competitions.

Young, aspiring national team players also have the chance to compete at the IBSA Goalball Youth World Championships every two years. The first edition was held in Colorado Springs, USA, in 2005 where the hosts won both the boy’s and girl’s titles.

The youth Worlds are a great way for countries to show-off their future talent with many players going on to make senior squads.

Brazilian men's goalball team celebrate by joining hands at Lima 2019

Most decorated countries at IBSA Goalball World Championships


No. COUNTRY GOLD SILVER BRONZE TOTAL
1. Lithuania (LTU) 2 1 1 4
2. Germany (GER) 2 1 0 3
3. Brazil (BRA) 2 0 0 2
4. Finland (FIN) 1 1 0 2
5. Sweden (SWE) 1 0 2 3
6. Slovenia (SLO)
United States (USA)
1 0 2 3
8. Yugoslavia (YUG) 1 0 1 2
9. Italy (ITA) 0 2 0 2
10. Austria (AUT)
China (CHN)
Israel (ISR)
Netherlands (NED)
Spain (ESP)
0 1 0 1
15. Egypt (EGY) 0 0 2 2
16. Belgium (BEL)
Denmark (DEN)
Iran (IRI)
0 0 1 1
No. COUNTRY GOLD SILVER BRONZE TOTAL
1. United States (USA) 4 2 2 8
2. Finland (FIN) 2 0 1 3
3. Denmark (DEN) 1 2 0 3
4. Canada (CAN) 1 1 1 3
5. China (CHN)
Russia (RUS)
1 1 0 2
7. Sweden (SWE) 0 1 2 3
8. Turkey (TUR) 0 1 1 2
9. Germany (GER) 0 1 0 1
10. Netherlands (NED) 0 0 2 2
11. Brazil (BRA) 0 0 1 1

Most decorated countries at Paralympic Games


No. COUNTRY GOLD SILVER BRONZE TOTAL
1. United States (USA) 3 5 4 12
2. Finland (FIN) 3 2 0 5
3. Denmark (DEN) 3 1 4 8
4. Canada (CAN) 2 2 2 6
5. Germany (GER) 2 1 0 3
6. China (CHN) 1 3 0 4
7. Lithuania (LTU) 0 1 1 2
8. Japan (JPN)
Turkey (TUR)
Yugoslavia (YUG)
1
1
1
0
0
0
1
0
0
2
2
2
11. Austria (AUT)
Italy (ITA)
1
1
0
0
0
0
1
1
13. Sweden (SWE) 0 1 3 4
14. Egypt (EGY) 0 1 2 3
15. Brazil (BRA) 0 1 1 2
16. Spain (ESP) 0 0 1 1
17. Netherlands (NED) 0 0 1 1

Paralympic medal winners


Game GOLD SILVER BRONZE
1976 Toronto Austria West Germany Denmark
1980 Arnhem West Germany United States Netherlands
1984 New York City United States Egypt Yugoslavia
1988 Seoul Yugoslavia United States Egypt
1992 Barcelona Italy Finland Egypt
1996 Atlanta Finland Canada Spain
2000 Sydney Denmark Lithuania Sweden
2004 Athens Denmark Sweden United States
2008 Beijing China Lithuania Sweden
2012 London Finland Brazil Turkey
2016 Rio de Janeiro Lithuania United States Brazil

 

Game GOLD SILVER BRONZE
1984 New York City United States Canada Denmark
1988 Seoul Denmark United States Canada
1992 Barcelona Finland Denmark Canada
1996 Atlanta Germany Finland United States
2000 Sydney Canada Spain Sweden
2004 Athens Canada United States Japan
2008 Beijing United States China Denmark
2012 London Japan China Sweden
2016 Rio de Janeiro Turkey China United States