By Duncan Mackay

Goalball London_2012_test_event_September_2011June 11 - Britain's goalball teams will make their Paralympic debuts at London 2012 when both the men and women face the world champions and the Beijing 2008 silver medallists Lithuania in their opening matches of the tournament at the Copper Box on the Olympic Park on August 30, it was announced today.

The men will take on Lithuania while the women face China.

Britain's men will also have to face Beijing 2008 bronze medallists Sweden on September 1.

Men's Paralympic champions China will also open their campaign on August 30 when they face Iran, the only team they suffered defeat to on their way to the 2008 gold medal.

The women also face tough opening fixtures. 

The British women too will face Beijing 2008 bronze medallists when they take on Denmark on September 4.

In the second women's group, Paralympic champions United States will open against Sweden, who narrowly missed out on a medal in Beijing 2008 and who took the bronze behind the US silver at the World Championships.

The men's and women's tournaments will feature 12 and 10 teams respectively, with each tournament starting as one group of six and one of five.

Goalball USA_London_2012_test_event
The final group games are due take place on September 4, with local derbies such as the US against Canada in the women's tournament and Sweden versus Finland in the men's tournament crucial in deciding final positions before the top two from each group then progress to the quarter finals the next day.

There are matches every day from August 30 until the two gold medal matches, both of which are being held on September 7.

"Goalball has the potential to truly capture the public's imagination this summer," said Debbie Jevans, direct of sport at London 2012.

"Though not many people in the UK will be familiar with goalball, the Copper Box is the perfect venue in which to showcase this highly competitive and fast-paced sport, and landmarks such as the competition schedule announcement only help build excitement."

Kari Marklund, chairman of the International Blind Sports Association (IBSA) Goalball, is hoping that the event in London will help popularise the sport around the world.

"Expectations are always very high when it is time for Paralympic competition," he said.

"A four year goalball programme has reached its final stage.

"The motto of the games is 'Inspire a generation'.

"My wish is that the London 2012 goalball tournament will inspire a generation of goalball players all around the world."

The full Paralympic Goalball competition schedule can be viewed here.

Tickets are still available for the Paralympic Goalball tournaments, costing just £15 with an Olympic Park Day Pass also included - £5 for young people and seniors.

Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

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