By Paul D. Bowker | June 01, 2018, 12:01 a.m. (ET)
Joe Hamilton competes in men's goalball at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016.

 

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The U.S. women’s and men’s national goalball teams begin play Sunday in the IBSA Goalball World Championships in Malmo, Sweden.

Podium finishes would lock down berths for the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

The U.S. women, who are defending world champions, face Greece in their tournament opener at 11 a.m. ET Sunday.

“We’re the most prepared we’ve ever been as an entire team,” said Eliana Mason, a 2016 Paralympic bronze medalist and 2014 world champion. “Training together on the court (daily) has allowed us to become a strong cohesive unit.”

The U.S. men, who won a bronze medal at the 2014 world championships, face Brazil at 3 a.m. ET and Germany at 12:20 p.m. Sunday.

“We’re all eager to get to Sweden and get started,” said men’s coach Matthew Boyle. “I know all of the guys are excited to go, but the energy is very calm and reserved in these days leading up to the competition.”

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The U.S. is among 16 teams in the men’s tournament and among 12 teams in the women’s tournament. The top four teams in each group through five days of pool play advance to the quarterfinals.

The medal round is scheduled for June 8.

In addition to Mason, other members of the women’s team are Paralympic medalists Asya Miller, Amanda Dennis, Lisa Czechowski and Marybai Huking, plus 2020 hopeful Bryanna Stubbert.

Leading the U.S. men are 2016 Paralympic silver medalists Joe Hamilton, John Kusku and Daryl Walker, along with Calahan Young, Josh Welborn and Grej Pesjaka.

Paul D. Bowker is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.