Paralympic bronze medallists Turkey got their goalball campaign off to the best possible start as they beat Mexico 9-5 on the opening day of the fifth edition of the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) World Games in Seoul.
The Turkish outfit were perhaps expected to earn a much more comfortable victory but they came up against a resolute Mexican side desperate to cause an upset in Group A.
Ekrem Gundogdu and Tuncay Karakaya each bagged four goals to ensure they overcame a staunch test in their first match, while European silver medallists Spain also began with a win as they beat hosts South Korea 3-2.
There was a shock scoreline in Group B on day one as goalball heavyweights Lithuania were held to a 0-0 draw by lowly Venezuela, but Iran had no such problems as they cruised to a thumping 10-0 victory over Australia, in which Mohsen Jalilvandshirkhanitabar and Mohammad Soranji Estarki both scored five.
Following the completion of the first day of men’s goalball matches, the Opening Ceremony was held at the Jamsil Gymnasium venue to officially begin the event, widely expected to be the biggest in the history of the IBSA.
There was an energetic atmosphere at the Ceremony, which was attended by Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, honorary chairman of the Seoul Games, and former South Korean national football team manager Guus Hiddink, as well as IBSA President Jannie Hammershoi.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye also sent her well wishes via a video link.
“It is the first World Games in Asia ever,” Hammershoi said.
“Today is a very special occasion, because what might not seem possible is possible.
“I’m happy to welcome you all to the biggest World Games ever.”
Around 1,600 athletes are due to compete at the event across nine different sports - athletics, chess, B1 and B2/3 category football, men’s and women’s goalball, showdown, swimming, tenpin bowling and judo – and the rest of the sporting programme, aside from judo, is due to begin tomorrow.
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February 2015: IBSA invites feedback on draft harassment policy ahead of World Games in Seoul