Goalball team with WMU ties takes gold in Beijing
Sept. 22, 2008
KALAMAZOO--The U.S. women's goalball team, with five players who have ties to Western Michigan University, has brought home the gold medal from the Paralympic Games in Beijing.
The team beat Denmark in sudden death overtime to play China for the gold. The team then beat China, 6-5, in a sold-out Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium to strike gold.
The team consists of Jen Armbruster (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Lisa Banta (Boonton, N.J.), Asya Miller (Lapeer, Mich.), Robin Theryoung (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Jessica Lorenz (Berkley, Calif.) and Jackie Barnes (Wadsworth, Ill.).
Armbruster formerly worked in the WMU Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies and was joined by WMU graduates Miller and Theryoung. Barnes and Lorenz both were introduced to goalball through sports camps held at WMU for athletes with visual impairments. All five were members of the U.S. team at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens.
The game between Team USA and Denmark went into two overtime periods after being tied 3-3 at the end of regulation. Neither team was able to score during the first three minutes, going into another three-minute overtime period. But Miller threw the winning ball ending the game in sudden death, 4-3.
Miller also carried the U.S. team to gold over China with a six-goal haul. The two teams went goal-for-goal up to the end, with neither team leading by more than one goal. It came down to the final minute of play when Miller found the back of the net with a devastating cross-court throw to give the United States the lead with 49 seconds left.
It was then a question of defense, and the United States was able to hang on and go one better than its silver medal in Athens.
"I've played in four Paralympics prior to coming to Beijing," says Armbruster, the team captain. "This game was a continuation of the unfinished business in Athens where we won silver. Winning the gold tonight is finishing what we started four years ago."
In other Paralympics news, a U. S. rower with WMU ties struck silver, while the men's goalball team, with two WMU students, finished out of medal contention.
Jamie (James) Dean, an exceptional athlete who attended WMU sports camps for a number of years, captured the silver medal in rowing in the first-ever rowing competition at the Paralympic Games. Dean, who is legally blind and played on the Michigan Youth Goalball team for several years, began rowing in college and proved good enough to be on the U.S. Paralympic Team.
The men's goalball team, which includes WMU students Steve Denuyl and Tyler Merren, didn't fare as well as the women's team. Though the team came back after a disappointing loss to China and made it to the finals, they came up short against Sweden in the bronze medal round and ended up placing fourth.
Paralympic goalball competition was held Sept. 7-14.
Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, firstname.lastname@example.org