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U.S. Paralympic Team Leaves Fort Wayne For Rio

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The USA men's goalball team. Joseph Hamilton is the second athlete on the left.

The 2016 Paralympics start next week, and one of the teams has been training in Fort Wayne. 

The USA men’s goalball team has been practicing at Turnstone Center for Children and Adults with Disabilities, and the center is having a send-off celebration for the team on Monday.

The game is played with two teams of three athletes. Players on one team throw or roll a ball toward the goal. The other team tries to defend the goal. Both teams play both offense and defense.

The difference between this and other goal sports is that the athletes are wearing eye masks, preventing them from seeing anything. They use the sound of the ball, which is embedded with bells, to hear it and stop the other team from scoring.

Joseph Hamilton is on the U.S. men’s goalball team and is completely blind. He says he would like to see Americans pay attention to the Paralympics because of the athleticism of the players and the difficulty of the games. He says most stories on the Paralympics are focused on the inspirational story of overcoming a disability.

“I don’t know that we work to be inspiring,” Hamilton said. “I think we work to be athletes and want the recognition for the physical and mental preparation that it takes to reach that stage.”

Hamilton says the team hopes to get 2,500 likes on its Facebook page by the opening ceremony on September 7. As of Saturday, it has less than 600 likes, far less than most Olympic sports team’s Facebook pages. The U.S. Olympic soccer team’s page has nearly 3 million likes.

The men’s goalball team has been in Fort Wayne since October, and the team will continue practicing after the Paralympics. Turnstone spokeswoman Kenna Davis says the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes is currently building housing for the goalball players near the athletic center.

The USA men’s goalball team will arrive in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday. It has its first match on September 9 against China. Everyone is invited to the send-off celebration at Turnstone  on Monday, August 29 from 5:30-6:30. 

 

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