By David Gold

Australian goalball_teamMay 10 - Australia is to compete in goalball for the first time in a decade at the London Paralympic Games this summer, and have announced a six strong women's squad for the tournament.

Announced by the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC), Meica Christensen will captain the team, which will feature five Paralympic debutants.

They are Nicole Esdaile, Jennifer Blow, Tyan Taylor, Rachel Henderson and Michelle Rzepecki.

The last time Australia competed at the Paralympics was when they hosted the Games in Sydney in 2000, however, the team, who also qualified for the previous Games in Atlanta in 1996, have never won a medal in the event.

Goalball was introduced for the Paralympics in Toronto in 1976.

APC chief executive and the nation's 2012 team Chef de Mission Jason Hellwig said: "The APC is proud of the high performance goalball programme we manage.

"Our women's team qualifying for the Games for the first time since 1996 is testament to the hard work the APC and Goalball Australia have put into developing the national program over the past few years.

"We have a young team who are determined to show the world what they are capable of, they are training exceptionally hard and their success will no doubt put this truly unique Paralympic sport into the spotlight in Australia."

Australia finished eighth at the IBSA Goalball World Championships in 2010, and sixth at the following year's World Cup.

Australia has steadily improved its international performances over the last two years, finishing eighth at the 2010 IBSA Goalball World Championships before jumping two places to sixth at the 2011 IBSA Goalball World Cup.

Meica Christensen"It does not feel real just yet, but it was a relief to finally get in the squad and know I'm going over to London," said the 23-year-old Christensen (pictured).

"We just want to do our best in London and that means training as hard as we can now.

"I do not want to hope for a medal, I just want to show the world what we are made of and just know we have done our best."

Australian women's goalball head coach Georgina Kenaghan added: "We are going in as the underdog and that is an exciting position to be in, without the pressure of expectation to medal or back up a result.

"We have made improvements in the tournaments we competed in over the last two years – with these girls, anything is possible."

The Paralympic goalball gold was won by the United States in 2008, with hosts China second and Denmark third.

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