Goalball Athletes Ali Lawson, Shavon Lockhardt Embrace First Games Experience

By Allie Dosmann | Aug. 25, 2019, 4:11 p.m. (ET)

Shavon Lockhardt celebrates scoring a goal at the Parapan American Games Lima 2019 on Aug. 25, 2019 in Lima, Peru.

 

The Parapan American Games Lima 2019 provide athletes with a unique experience.

For many, it is their first time at a Games. That means that it’s the first time they are living alongside their teammates in an athlete village, trading pins with athletes from other nations and eating their meals in the dining hall. This is all very similar to a Paralympic Games.

The city of Lima is also entirely embracing the competition. Banners hang throughout the city, with proud fans cheering on athletes of all nations at every event.

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For goalball’s Ali Lawson and Shavon Lockhardt, the Parapan Games mark their first multisport event with Team USA.

“The athlete village is really cool. It reminds me of a college campus almost,” Lawson said. “It’s really convenient and within walking distance, which is awesome.”

“It is different. I’m enjoying it,” Lockhardt said. “I like the fact that we have everything at our disposal, as far as the gym, basketball courts, everything you could want to do is right there.”

Another similarity to the Paralympic Games is that the Parapan Games kicked off Friday with a beautiful Opening Ceremony.

“The Opening Ceremony was indescribable. It was really a dream come true to get to walk in with the U.S. delegation,” Lawson said. “It was so great.”

The support from the crowd at Opening Ceremony was the most memorable part for Lockhardt.

“I’ve never seen so many people here for us. It was a lot of people,” she said. “It just felt so good, walking in there.”

While one might think that the bigger stage would also lead to more pressure, Lawson hasn’t felt too concerned.

“It’s the same sport wherever you go,” she said. “So, getting that first block calms the nerves right down for me.”

In addition, athletes go through team processing, where they get their fair share of Team USA memorabilia. This symbol of representing your country makes it all the more real for the athletes.

“Anytime you can get stuff with ‘Team USA’ on it, it’s… You know, I’ve been working to get here for a long time, so anytime I can wear things with Team USA on it, it’s amazing,” Lawson said.

On Sunday, the U.S. women’s goalball team kicked off competition as if they were shot out of a cannon. The squad defeated host nation Peru 10-0. Lockhardt scored the final goal in the match, effectively ending the game due to margin rule, with 2:07 left in the first half.

“I love to score, so anytime I get to score that’s awesome,” Lockhardt said.

Round robin competition continues through next week, with the women’s semifinal on Friday, August 30. The women’s medal rounds take place on Saturday, August 31.