USA celebrate wildly after winning gold at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games – but will they claim their first ever World Championship title when they take to the courts at Sarajevo 2022?
Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, 3 November 2022 – Reigning Paralympic gold medallists USA are ready for a historic first ever women’s world championship gold medal as the 2022 edition of the World ParaVolley premier competition gets underway here on Friday afternoon with the participation of 13 teams from around the globe.
In the absence of defending champions Russian Paralympic Committee and two times previously world champions China (away this years because of a ban and Covid-19 restrictions respectively), this could be USA’s big opportunity to get it right after three consecutive appearances in a final – all three ending in tears, with silver for the Americans.
But USA still have to prove themselves on the court and their first task is to move past pool play, against the likes of Canada, Slovenia and Iran, and into the knockout stage. A first-place finish in the pool would give them a direct spot in the quarterfinals; a second-place ranking would see them needing to negotiate A ‘Round of 12’ knockout match in order to continue.
Kathryn Holloway, the MVP of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics will not be around to lift her team to new heights, so the historic responsibility here falls on the shoulders of Rio 2016 MVP Heather Erickson alongside other USA stars such as captain Monique Matthews and setter Kaleo Kanahele.
Brazil and Italy would be the next highest-ranked teams at Sarajevo 2022 – and both are in the same Phase 1 pool, which guarantees an early epic showdown as both will be seeking to avoid the extra knockout match in the ‘Round of 12’ – of course after dealing successfully with Finland and Germany who make up the balance in their pool.
Neither Italy nor Brazil have ever been on the podium of a World Championship, though the South Americans did claim back-to-back bronze medals at the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
So both are this year poised to do some history-writing of their own.
Heading the remaining of the three Phase 1 pools are hosts Bosnia & Herzegovina, placed alongside Rwanda, Ukraine, Hungary and Poland.
Bosnia & Herzegovina are unranked – indeed just recently launched their women’s National Team programme and only scored their historic first ever international win earlier this year (in the exact same competition hall at the Sarajevo suburb of Ilidza) against France in the European Silver League.
The hosts still need a grand showing before their home fans, if only to convince the powers that be that their programme is a cause worthy of support.
The women’s competition at Sarajevo 2022 runs in parallel with the men’s World Championship – both culminating with the grand finals on Friday 11 November.
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