2007 International Goalball Tournament completed a well-content run in Beijing on Sunday as the hosts China stunned the field to win their first international final.
The four-day tournament, which is this year's only test event for the Paralympics, won high marks, even surprise from the International Paralympic Committees (IPC).
Jim Leask, technical official of the goalball committee of the IPC, repeated it that Beijing is well-prepared and the event is the best goalball competition they ever had.
The IPC official turned his thumb up especially on the venue Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium.
"This is the best we've ever had. It is convenient, compact but not crowded," he said.
The 21,900 square meters stadium has one main court and two warm-up courts with a spectator capacity of 5,000. Located in northwest Beijing, the stadium was rebuilt to add non-barrier facilities to host the Paralympics goalball event as well as the Olympic volleyball competition.
"There is not only tactile. They have gone with the trouble that when there is a door there is a different pattern. When there is crosspath there is a different pattern," Leask said.
"It is the right type of tactile for the blind and all of the corners they put in huge efforts in making sure that the facility accessible for the blind," he said.
Besides Beijing's effort to build up such a great Paralympics venue, it also astonished the visitors that the underdog China could beat the world powerhouses one by one eventually to win the final.
The hosts, who had claimed series of upsets by beating the world champion Lithuania and traditionally strong side Canada, outplayed the strong Sweden 8-3 to claim their first-ever gold medal.
After a close 3-3 draw of first half, the host side opened their fire to make it 8-3 thanks to the great scorer Chen Liangliang who contributes almost all the goals of the second half.
"We are so excited that we won it!" said China's team manager Zhang Yong.
"But we have to remind ourselves that it's just a test event and several strong rivals did not come here. We will strive to step on the podium at the Paralympics," added Zhang.
World top-ranked Lithuania beat the United States 5-2 to win the third place.
Goalball, invented in 1946 by Austrian Hanz Lorenzen, was introduced to the world in 1976 at the Paralympics in Toronto, Canada and has been played at every Paralympic since.
(Xinhua News Agency September 17, 2007)