By Tom Degun at the Handball Arena in the Olympic Park

goalball-test-event-demoDecember 2 - Chris Holmes, London 2012 director of Paralympic integration, admits he is excited that goalball will tomorrow become the first 2012 Paralympic test event to get underway when the action begins here in Stratford.

The test event, titled the London International Goalball Tournament, will see five women's teams from China, Canada, Great Britain, Sweden and USA battle it out for glory in the two-day competition.

Although tickets for the tournament were not on sale to the public, 4,000 tickets over the two days of the event were given out by London 2012 to local residents, schools, colleges and to goalball supporters through Goalball UK, the National Governing Body for the sport.

"It will be fantastic to see competitive Paralympic sport happening for the first time in the Olympic Park and we are delighted to welcome goalball teams from around the world," Holmes told insidethegames.

"We are sure this will not only be a highly competitive tournament, it is also vital for us to test our operations, technology and field of play.

"But we also want to show people the first glimpse of what Paralympic sport will look like come the Games and it will truly be a sight to behold.

"It is a very exciting time and I really do feel that the Paralympics will very much be the surprise package of the London 2012 Games."

The event takes place just a week after the handball test event but Holmes explained that this was intentional as during London 2012, the venue will host handball during the Olympics and then be transformed to host goalball during the Paralympics.

"We have purposely run the goalball test event a week after the handball test event in order to test the transition of the venue, replicating the same transition as at Games time," he said.

goalball 02-12-111
Goalball is a 3-a-side team sport played by visually impaired athletes using a ball with bells inside.

Deemed one of the most exciting Paralympic sports, play is conducted in silence with just the sound of the bells used to judge movement of the ball.

Coinciding with the eve of the first Paralympic test event, London 2012 Paralympic tickets are today back on sale for the second time, with goalball being one of the Paralympic events with tickets still available for next year.

In addition, the Olympic Lottery Distributor also today confirmed their grant of £66 million ($103 million/€77 million) to London 2012 as part of the overall Public Sector Funding package.

As part of the public funds already agreed in the bid commitment, this money will contribute towards costs which include transitioning the venues and for timing, scoring and results for Paralympic sports.

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