By Duncan Mackay

London 2012_Paralympic_draw_April_27_2012April 27 - Britain have avoided defending Paralympic gold medallists China and the United States in the draw made today for the goalball tournament at London 2012 but will face the world champions. 

The draw, organised in cooperation between International Blind Sports Association (IBSA) Goalball and London 2012, pits Britain's men in Group A where they will face Lithuania, the world champions, who won a silver medal at Beijing 2008.

Also in the group are Sweden, the Beijing 2008 bronze medallists, and Finland, Brazil and Turkey.

The women will take on China, who lost the United States in the final in Beijing four years ago, but gained revenge by winning the World Championships in Sheffield two years ago.

Denmark, the Beijing 2008 bronze medallists, are also in Britain's group, which is completed by Brazil and Finland.

A total of 12 teams were drawn into two groups of six for the men's competition, and 10 teams into two groups of five for the women's.

Having accepted the host nation slots last month, Britain were drawn from the first pot alongside Lithuania, China and Iran for the men, and China, US and Sweden for the women.

The four regional champions were then divided between the two groups, before finally the four men's teams and the two women's teams who qualified from last year's IBSA World Games were also placed. 

China v_Lithuania_Beijing_2008
The draw was made by International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board member Rita van Driel.

"The draw has produced a lot of exciting 'local derbies' such as USA v Canada in the women's tournament, and Sweden v Finland in the men's tournament," she said.

"I am pleased that all the continents are represented in this exciting sport during the Paralympic Games.

"I wish all the teams the best of luck."

Kari Marklund, the IBSA Goalball chairman, forecast a tournament where there were no clear favourites.

 "We now have two balanced groups in both the men's and women's compettition," he said.

"The skill of the individual players and the teamwork is improving from year to year.

"It is impossible to predict medalists and I'm looking forward to a fantastic competition."

The full draw is: 

Men's: Group A - Lithuania, Great Britain, Finland, Brazil, Turkey, Sweden; Group B - China, Iran, South Korea, Algeria, Canada, Belgium
Women's Group A - China, Great Britain, Denmark, Brazil, Finland; Group B - USA, Sweden, Australia, Japan, Canada

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