2019 International Blind Sports Federation Qualifiers: 10 Things You Need To Know

By Melissa Zhang | July 01, 2019, 6:03 p.m. (ET)

Goalball athlete Tyler Merren competing on behalf of the United States at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016.
Goalball and judo athletes from the United States will compete on home soil as they attempt to qualify for the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. 

The United States goalball and judo teams will attempt to qualify for the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 during July’s International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) International Qualifier. Before the U.S. lines up for competition, check out the ten essential facts to know about this major event:

1. What the event is: The IBSA Goalball and Blind Judo International Qualifier will feature more than 600 athletes from 48 countries competing for Tokyo 2020 spots. In addition to goalball and judo competitions, the event will also include the IBSA General Assembly. Results from the multisport tournament will have implications for the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, as the top two goalball teams in each gender (four teams total) will secure their spots in Tokyo and judokas will be able to use their results to determine which athletes will earn their berths to next year’s Games.

2. Competition dates: Goalball competition will take place from July 2-9, with the first group matches and pool play starting on Tuesday, July 2. The quarterfinals and placement games will take place on July 8, with the medal matches taking place on the final day, July 9.

Judo will run from July 3-5, with women competing on Wednesday, July 3, in the following weight categories: -48, -52, -57, -63, -70, +70 kg. Men will compete on Thursday, July 4, in the following weights: -60, -66, -73, -81, -90, -100, +100 kg.

Preliminary and repechage fights will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with final blocks and medal ceremonies occurring in the afternoon from 3-6 p.m. The full schedule can be found here.

3. Where the event is being held: Fort Wayne, Indiana will be hosting the competition at the Turnstone Center, Indiana Tech and the Grand Wayne Center. This marks the first time that this competition has been hosted in the United States, and the tournament is also the largest international event to be held in Fort Wayne.

4. Tokyo 2020 implications: Fields of 16 men’s and 16 women’s goalball teams will be competing in Indiana. The top two teams in each gender not already qualified for Tokyo will punch their tickets to next year’s Paralympic Games.

Judokas will have the chance to gain qualification for Tokyo 2020 based on their performances and points earned in Fort Wayne. The international qualifier, along with world and regional championships that were held in 2018 and 2019, serves as a competition with implications for the Paralympic Games.

5. Top competition for the U.S. China, the silver medalists from Rio 2016, and two-time Paralympic champion Canada will be top contenders in women’s goalball. Lithuania, gold medalists from Rio 2016, and Finland, the London 2012 Paralympic champions will be teams to beat on the men’s side.

For judo, competition includes Great Britain’s Chris Skelley who earned the world top spot at the grand prix in May and Zviad Gogotchuri of Georgia, who is the reigning Paralympic gold medalist at 90 kg. On the women’s side, Alana Martins of Brazil and Paralympic champion Lenia Ruvalcaba of Mexico will highlight the competition roster.   

6. Up-and-coming goalball athletes to watch: Calahan Young and Shavon Lockhardt are two newcomers to watch at the qualifiers. Young made his world championship debut with the national team last year for the IBSA goalball world championships in Malmo, Sweden.

7. Top U.S. judo competitors: Ben Goodrich, Ricky Ties and Robert Tanaka will be athletes to watch for Team USA. Goodrich won gold (100 kg.) at the 2019 German Open and finished ninth at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016. Ties earned bronze (100 kg.) at the 2018 IBSA Judo World Cup in Uzbekistan and is a resident-athlete at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

8. Paralympic goalball athletes competing:

On the women’s goalball team, Rio 2016 bronze medalists Asya Miller (Portland, Oregon), Lisa Czechowski (Boonton, New Jersey), Amanda Dennis (Peachtree City, Georgia), Eliana Mason (Beaverton, Oregon) and Marybai Huking (Plain City, Utah) will be returning to competition for the United States.

Miller and Czechowski lead the team in experience, both having competed in five Paralympic Games. The two have earned three Paralympic medals – silver at the Paralympic Games Athens 2004, gold in Beijing 2008 and bronze in Rio 2016.

Paralympians and Rio silver medalists Tyler Merren (Coral Springs, Florida), John Kusku (Commerce Township, Michigan), Joseph Hamilton (Sacramento, California) and Andrew Jenks (Wilmington, Delaware) will compete on the men’s side. Merren is a three-time Paralympian who won silver in Rio, as well as bronze in Athens 2004.

9. Paralympic judo athletes competing: Fourteen Americans, including five Paralympians, will be competing on behalf of the United States in judo. Ben Goodrich, Sarah Chung, Cindy Simon, Katie Davis and Ron Hawthorne have represented Team USA at previous Paralympic Games. Goodrich is ranked seventh in the world at -100 kg. and finished ninth at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016.

10. How to watch: Livestreams will be broadcast on the event website, as well as the Facebook and YouTube platforms for IBSA and USABA.