6 October 2019
Leiter out to right Rio wrong and seal Tokyo spot at European Championships
Sarah Leiter is determined to rubber-stamp a spot at Tokyo 2020 as Great Britain head to the IBSA Goalball European Championships in Rostock, Germany.
Leiter, 29, was part of the women’s team that narrowly missed out on a place at the Rio Paralympics and were official reserves for the Games.
Turkey and Russia have already gained their spots for next year in Japan, so the task at hand is for Britain to finish as the top non-qualified team and Leiter has a steely focus on that goal.
“I think we’ve really grown together over the past year,” Leiter said.
“As with any team sport, you always have a transition period with people leaving and new people coming in.
“It’s something you always need to think about but because it’s got a common aim of qualifying for Tokyo as a team, I think that’s really bonded us together.
“It’s been going really well, it’s been a busy year. We’ve gone to quite a few friendly international tournaments in preparation, which are always helpful.
“It’s really important for us to all stay focused, stay healthy and play our best game when we get to the tournament.
We actually surprised ourselves with how close we got to Rio
“It’s really difficult to put into words what it would mean to be in Tokyo.
“It probably sounds quite cliché, it would be a dream come true. It would be a lot of hard work paying off and the big tournament for anyone participating in para-sport.”
Leiter is joined in the Great Britain squad by Antonia Bunyan, Georgie Bullen, Meme Robertson, Kali Holder and Megan Smithson-Booth.
The Brits begin their campaign in Pool Y as they take on Turkey and Germany on Wednesday, with the round robin stage starting on Friday.
Despite the disappointment of missing out on a place in Rio, the setback gave Leiter perspective and hopes they can go one better this time.
“For Rio, we actually surprised ourselves with how well we did and the fact we got so close,” Leiter added.
“On one hand it was a surprise that we actually did better than expected, on the other hand then losing out by being the official reserve was just painful.
“I think for me personally it gave me a much better big picture view and it made me realise how much all of the little things that we do at training matter
“Actually, gaining a spot for Tokyo is not easy but it’s really worth putting in the effort and trying again.
“I think we are in a better position now than we’ve been before so we should really go for it.”
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