No. 45: Lithuania grab European gold with shoot-out win

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Originally published by the IPC as part of the Top 50 Moments of 2013.

On 1 November, some of the top men’s and women’s goalball teams headed to the 2013 IBSA Goalball European Championships in Konya, Turkey, aiming to remain in the A division and claim their spots at the 2014 IBSA Goalball World Championships in Finland.

Nine days later, the men’s competition ended in a way nobody predicted – Lithuania defeated Spain for gold with a thrilling shoot-out victory.

The Lithuanian men’s team had a strong start in Konya, winning against Sweden (11-3) and Germany (11-4) in the round-robin stage, before losing to both Ukraine (11-6) and Spain (7-1).

They bounced back in the playoffs, making their eighth-straight semi-final of a major international tournament, at which point they beat the defending Paralympic and European champions Finland, 9-5.

The Spanish men, after failing to qualify for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, went undefeated in the group stage and were able to successfully upset host nation Turkey in the semi-finals, 5-2.

Spain, coached by goalball veteran, Paco Monreal, were demonstrating their will to recover from defeat and would be going up against a Lithuanian team in the final that had multiple titles to their name.

In the gold-medal game, Lithuania scored the first goal early. They were given a penalty for a high ball, and Spain received one soon after for a long ball, but both teams failed to convert these into scores.

After approximately 30 minutes of play, Lithuania made a defensive mistake and Spain equalised the score 1-1.

When neither side managed to score a goal in overtime, they proceeded to a penalty shoot-out, at which point Lithuania stormed to gold with three successful scores to Spain’s one.

Recalling the shoot-out, Monreal said all the coaches could do was wait and pray as their players took the shots.

“During the penalty throws, the coaches are sitting separate of the players and it’s not possible to talk and give instructions to them,” said Monreal.

By finishing first and second, Lithuania and Spain both qualified for next year’s World Championships. Lithuania now hold multiple European and world titles, but are still in search of their first Paralympic gold in Rio.

IBSA Goalball Asia-Pacific Championships to begin

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Originally published on the International Blind Sport Federation and International Paralympic Committee websites.

On the heels of the European Championships, goalball action will start up again on Wednesday (13 November), when the 2013 IBSA Goalball Asia-Pacific Championships begin in Beijing, China.

Four women’s and six men’s teams will compete for the top spots in the region and qualification spots for the 2014 IBSA Goalball World Championships in Finland.

The men’s and women’s gold-medal games are scheduled for Sunday (17 November).

Women

Host nation China’s women’s team have already qualified for next year’s World Championships, having won silver at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The women were also gold medallists at the 2010 IBSA Goalball World Championships in Sheffield, Great Britain.

The Japanese women’s goalball team, also competing in these Asia-Pacific Championships, qualified for the 2014 World Championships after winning gold at London 2012.

Iran and Australia, the other women’s teams competing in Beijing, will be vying for the last Asia-Pacific-region women’s spot in next year’s Championships.

Men

The two spots allotted for men’s teams from the Asia-Pacific region at the World Championships remain up for grabs. It’s anyone’s guess which two men’s teams in this competition – China, Australia, Iran, Japan, Mongolia, and Thailand – will be going to Finland.

Based on the new world rankings, China and Iran may have the best chance of claiming the top men’s spots.

China’s men’s team, No. 16 in the world rankings, won silver at the 2010 World Championships, while Iran, No. 13 in the world, won bronze. Both the Chinese and Iranian men were quarter-finalists two years later at the Paralympics in London.

 

Teams head to IBSA Goalball European Championships

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My first goalball article as a volunteer writer for the International Paralympic Committee! Originally published on the International Blind Sport Federation and the International Paralympic Committee websites.

Finland’s men and Denmark’s women will enter next week’s event as the favourites to win European titles. 

The top European goalball teams will meet in Konya, Turkey, starting on Friday (1 November) to compete at the 2013 IBSA European Goalball Championships.

On top of playing hard to keep their places in the A division, these teams will be aiming to secure spots at the 2014 IBSA Goalball World Championships.

Round-robin play begins on Monday (4 November) for both men and women. Men’s teams from Finland, Turkey, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, and Belgium will compete against each other in Pool A. Lithuania, Sweden, Spain, Germany, and Ukraine play in Pool B.

Playing on home court has served the Turkish men well in the past. They won the 2007 IBSA Goalball European Men’s C Championships in Antalya, rising to the B division. The team then rose to the A division in 2010, winning a bronze medal at their first A division European Championships.

The Turkish men were also successful at the London 2012 Paralympic Games qualifiers in Turkey in 2011.

They left their first Paralympics with a bronze medal, qualifying them for the 2014 World Championships in Finland. Only three other teams of the 20 participating in these European Championships have qualified for the Worlds – host Finland’s men’s and women’s teams, as well as the women’s team from Sweden, bronze medallists at the London 2012 Paralympics.

In Konya, teams from Denmark, Spain, Israel, Turkey, and Germany will compete in women’s Pool X, while Russia, Sweden, Finland, Ukraine, and Great Britain make up Pool Y.

The Danish women are defending champions in this competition.

Karina Jorgensen scored the winning goal for the Danes at the 2011 European Championship to give them a 4-3 victory against Russia, and she said she remembers the excitement of winning the final on home court and is eager to defend the title.

“It has been very important for me to participate this year with our new team,” Jorgensen said.

Jorgensen said the Danish women are in a “generational shift” in which veteran goalball players like her are playing with new players who have yet to compete internationally.

“We will experience a lot of external pressure, but for us, it’s about playing as a team and getting as far as possible,” she said.

Eleven men’s and six women’s teams are still eligible to qualify for next year’s World Championships, but Danish women’s coach Henri Nooyen said he’s looking beyond 2014 to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

“Obviously, it would be nice to perform very well, but our main goal is to stay in the A round,” said Nooyen.

“It helps us release pressure on young players because we can tell them, ‘This is a tournament where you can learn.’ ”

Echoing Jorgensen, Nooyen said the Danish women have trained intensely in a short period of time to prepare the new team for these Championships.

The tournament will run through 9 November, with the playoff rounds beginning of 7 November.

Peterborough Pride 2013

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Mayor Daryl Bennett reads the Pride Proclamation.

Mayor Daryl Bennett reads the Pride Proclamation.

Tomorrow’s Free To Be Drag Show at Shots in Peterborough will mark the end of Peterborough Pride Week. For me, the past few days have been spent trying to learn more about the experiences of people who have different sexual orientations from my own.

I’ve learned a lot about how heterosexuality sets a norm for lifestyles and ways of social interaction which excludes many other forms of human relationships. Western society’s answer to this criticism has been to grant same-sex couples the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples.

But while many people would like to get married, others do not. So when we rally behind the fight for same-sex marriage in an effort to be inclusive of people with different sexual orientations, we still exclude many. We are ignoring the struggles of people whose relationships don’t adhere to the rules of marriage, because they have polygamous relationships, fluid gender identities, more than one sexual orientation, etc.

Even though it makes us comfortable to think we can accommodate people with different sexual orientations by granting them all the right to marry, many relationships don’t fit into the ideal we envision for them, and the people in these relationships don’t want them to.

Image from Screaming Queens.

Image from Screaming Queens.

Does this make sense? I almost didn’t write this because I thought it would be too difficult to articulate but I  think I got it down.  The documentary Screaming Queens – The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria was a great catalyst for this discussion, which took place at OPIRG Peterborough.

Another bit of knowledge I gained this week concerned terminology. Often issues like same-sex marriage or heteronormativity are grouped under LGBT issues – lesbian, gay, bi, trans. Sometimes, there’s a Q added to the end of this acronym for queer. What does it mean to be queer? How is it different from L, G, B, and T?

“The term ‘Queer’ is used by some as an umbrella term for the rest of the grouping LGBT but by others as a distinct designation where they don’t wish to be slotted into one of the LGBT ‘orientations,’ ” Rick Lambert, Chair of the Rainbow Service Organization, wrote to me in an e-mail.

“Queer has a much broader definition than gay or lesbian and leaves room for flexibility in terms of preferences, which makes it appealing to those whose orientation is not so specific,” he went on to write. “I like the way queer opens up the conversation/debate about what diversity is, since it describes a broad portion of the spectrum of human sexual orientation and preference.”

He recommends good ol’ Wikipedia as a reference for more information. Catherine Ginies sent me this definition from the PFLAG Peterborough website:

For decades queer was used solely as a derogatory adjective for gays and lesbians, but in the 1980s the term began to be used by gay and lesbian activists as a term of self-identification. Eventually, it came to be used as an umbrella term that included gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people. Nevertheless, a sizable percentage of people to whom this term might apply still hold queer to be a hateful insult, and its use by heterosexuals is often considered offensive. Similarly, other reclaimed words are usually offensive to the in-group when used by outsiders.

I’ve learned that there are many different ways of interpreting this word, depending on who’s using it. “That is the fun thing about language and words,” Rick wrote. “They are dynamic and not boring!”

Pride Bird?

Pride Bird?

A couple of other words I’ve learned to use in understanding LGBTQ issues are “sympathy” and “empathy.” I don’t know what it feels like to love someone of the same sex, or feel I am in the wrong body, or want to be in a relationship with more than one person. But I can feel sympathy for someone who feels excluded for a part of their identity they have no ability to change. I can empathize, because I know what that’s like.

As I write this, I’m seeing that Barilla Pasta is trending because the chairman said gay couples would not be featured in their commercials. According to him, gay couples do not represent a “classic family.” See how far we still have to go?

Dear Madame Marois

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Rosanna Haroutounian:

I don’t usually reblog other people’s posts but I share so many of these sentiments. Thanks Mr. Friedman.

Originally posted on The Undefended Border:

My letterDear Madame Marois:

Allow me to begin by apologizing for writing in English. (This letter is now available in a French translation at HuffPost Québec.) I know that you speak and read English very well and though I am a fluent speaker of French, I have lost some of my fluency in the written language after spending eight years in an entirely English-speaking professional and academic environment. I write to you in English because I can best express myself on the subject of an extremely complex issue in my first language. Please feel free to respond in French.

I am un Québécois errant. I left Québec 2005 to pursue my doctorate in history, and I am now teaching at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Like Québécois scholars who have trod this path before me, such as Daniel Turp and Jacques Parizeau, I feel a constant and deep longing for

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Journeys through Multimedia and Multiculturalism

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The United Nations Association in Canada’s Multimedia and Multimedia Programme marked the end of its three-year mandate with the Knowledge to Action Forum in Scarborough, ON, on September 12 and 13.

Through the M&M Programme, I was able to intern as a reporter at Metro News in Ottawa last fall, where I gained experience pitching stories, writing under deadlines, and taking photos to accompany my print and digital stories. While delivering on the promise to diversify Canadian media to better reflect current demographics was a challenge at times, the fact that the programme gets young people from different backgrounds into a range of media organizations across the country is a huge feat. Many new journalists face the obstacle of not having enough experience to be hired by mainstream media. So, we must compete for internship opportunities, even though this way of “gaining experience” is increasingly controversial, since it’s essentially unpaid labour.

For me, delivering two or three stories each day which reflect diverse perspectives and engage with different communities, without a car or monetary compensation, was exhausting and rewarding. The most important skills I learned were in news judgement, time management, and social media. I’m building on my M&M experience by continuing to practice these skills with the intention of working in media – full-time, paid, permanent.

My journeys continue…

Disney scenes and candy dreams;

That’s the way my life seems.

Sure, there are days when things go wrong,

But mommy and daddy help me along.

 

I learn to read; I learn to spell.

I can write a story of my own quite well.

I think I’d like to be a writer.

I think it can make the world a bit brighter.

 

The more I know, the more I feel

That the Disney stories aren’t very real

It’s harder to ignore the scary things I see,

Like the plane crash in New York City.

 

Why do people go to war?

Why are some rich, and others poor?

Notepad in hand, a pen behind my ear,

I’m out to make the muddy waters more clear.

 

Microphone, camera…is my toolbox is complete?

It’s missing a blog, and I still need to tweet.

Write, edit, report…but what’s it all for?

Does the world even need journalists any more?

 

Someone out there gives me a chance

To learn what it’s like to do this dance.

I can prove that news and writing still matter

And that the death of print media is just chatter.

 

I meet many people who inspire me,

To write about them, and share their journey.

Everybody has a story to tell,

And every paper has ads to sell.

 

On this winding path, I meet many friends,

Trying to navigate its slopes and bends.

No map, no money, it’s easy to feel sore,

But we keep going; it’s adventure we’re here for.

 

I catch my breath in an open meadow,

Weary from my travels, unsure where to go.

I hold my pen, and I feel weak,

I recall every step as I rest by the creek.

We are often blind to our neighbours’ realties,

By politics, economics, and other front-page stories.

I can share new angles of these big world questions.

I can show decision-makers the effects of their actions.

 

In a country where so many struggle to be heard,

Journalists write for the voices that are blurred.

Whether I’m in the newsroom, or on my own,

I can share the stories that are still unknown.

Wildflowers of the Kawarthas

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The website www.wildflowersofontario.ca helped me name all but one of the wildflowers found in my yard.

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