The goalball competition at Rotterdam 2023 crowned Sweden as European champions in the men’s C division. The Swedish team defeated Hungary 11-5 to sit atop the podium in an encounter that showed an increased level of play in front of a large cheering crowd at Rotterdam Ahoy.
The play was quite even in the first half with Sweden leading only by one goal to finish 4-3. Despite Hungary levelling the score at 4-4 going into the final 12 minutes of play, goals continued for the Swedish squad with help from top scorer Olof Ryberg and the youngest member of the team Alexander Smedberg to secure the final result and victory. T
“It was an amazing game, an amazing tournament. It’s quite unreal (to win). We came here with one goal and this was to win the gold medal,” Ryberg said.
In a packed tribune Ryberg described the atmosphere as ‘fantastic’. “I don’t believe I have had this much audience in a goalball game ever before and I played in the world championships both at junior and senior level, and other European championships in the B and A pools,” he said.
“Never have I experienced this wonderful atmosphere with fans and athletes from the different sports, it’s amazing, just beautiful.”
And on the TikTok social media mania with millions of viewers for the goalball competition Ryberg said: “It’s amazing that our considerable small sport gets so much attention. I really hope that even a greater audience will watch goalball more frequently. It’s a lovely game, I love this game and I hope to spread the game so that everyone can enjoy it.”
The bronze medal was decided in the last seconds of the match. Spain beat France 6-5 to take the European Para Championships third place with the winning goal scored by Genis Quiroga.
“My adrenaline is so high at the moment. I am sweating and I am very excited about this victory,” he said. “It was the last opportunity to win the match, with a 50-50 chance. I was very nervous and I thought that I needed to score. It was such an intense moment.”
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