They came, they scored and they conquered in the goalball finals… Sveda Altunoluk scores nine goals to lead Turkey to 9-2 victory over USA, while Brazil claim first Paralympic gold after defeating China 7-2 on Day 10 at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
It was a golden night for Turkey’s Sevda Altunoluk who scored all nine goals in the final of the women’s goalball match against USA to lead her team to a 9-2 victory, while Brazil's men's team claimed their first Paralympic gold medal in the sport after beating China 7-2.
Defending Paralympic champions Turkey dominated the women's match from the outset with Altunoluk scoring two goals within the first few seconds. Her hugely powerful throwing style was no match for the Americans. By the end of the first half the score was 6-1, with Eliana Mason snatching one back for the USA at the Makuhari Messe Hall.
The flow of goals slowed down in the second half but Altunoluk, who was a member of the gold medal winning side against China in Rio 2016, put another three in the net. With four minutes before the end of the match the result looked like a foregone conclusion, then Asya Miller got one back for the USA, but it was too little too late as the final bell went on 9-2. It was a reversal of fortune for the USA squad, which also included team Amanda Dennis, Lisa Czechowski, Marybai Huking and Mindy Cook, as they had beaten Turkey in the heats 4-3.
There were huge cheers from the Turkish team's coaches and supporters in the arena. On the way to the final, Turkey had beaten in the heats Japan 8-5, Australia 10-6, Brazil 8-4 and Egypt 12-2. The team also included Altunoluk's sister Sevtap, Kader Celik, Seydanur Kaplan, Reyhan Yilmaz and Fatma Guler.
"You cannot describe this feeling, you have to live it. If you want to feel what we feel, you have to win," said Guler on her emotions after the match. "The flag is in our heart so it is together with us. We are playing for the flag and for our country."
You cannot describe this feeling, you have to live it. If you want to feel what we feel, you have to win.
The flag is in our heart so it is together with us. We are playing for the flag and for our country."
Czechowski, 42, who has been in the USA squad since Sydney 2000, said she was proud to win her fourth goalball medal, which equals the record of the most goalball medals in Paralympic Games history: she also won bronze in Rio 2016, gold in Beijing 2008 and silver in Athens 2004.
"It's an honour to achieve this milestone. I have played with so many amazing goalball athletes from the United States, and competed against so many more," she said. "I'm so proud to be a part of Team USA and a part of our [goalball] team."
In the bronze medal women's match, Japan beat Brazil 6-1.
The South American side fared better than the women in the bronze medal match to beat China 7-2 to become Paralympic champions for the first time.
Brazil, which took home bronze in Rio 2016 and silver in London 2012, had fought hard to upgrade to take home gold. Unlike the women's final, the score stayed at 0-0 for most of the first half before Josemarcio Sousa and Romario Marques broke the deadlock by each scoring a goal.
The action picked up in the second half with YANG Mingyuan from China, who were Paralympic champions in Beijing 2008, scoring two goals. Sousa also landed a second with a third within seconds of the final bell.
His compatriot, Leomon Moreno, who was the key player on the court, also showed his credentials by getting three past his opponents. The two-time world champion has helped to extend a dominant era for Brazil, who have reached the podium of every major competition since London 2012. And he did it again with a final score of 7-2. There were wild celebrations after the final bell with the team and supporters cheering and hugging in the centre of the court. On the way to the final, the team had also defeated Lithuania 9-5 and Turkey 9-4. Lithuania went on to claim the bronze after defeating USA 10-7.