A 26-year-old Paralympic goalscorer, left arm below the elbow, and the referee in his 18th year as a goalball player, aged 32. It’s a Sunday sports time-out from the movies but has its own status: the world record for the most longevity in goalshooting in a team.
Goalball Teammates Set Paralympic Record for Longevity Read more
Nico Liston, a Paracyclist, was an ordinary teenager when he began playing the sport in Paris in 2004. He is not alone: 557 goalball players aged between 16 and 25 made the GB team to join him in the US finals last week.
He set the two-year world record in 2015, around the time of Rio 2016 and in the build-up to this year’s Paralympics.
“I set it in 2015, as I was 22 and didn’t really have a clue where I wanted to go or where I was going to end up in goalball,” he said, before his partner of five years, Shaun Dingwall, persuaded him to take a serious crack at it. “Four years ago Shaun and I got our friendship to become a partnership and I made a decision to give goalball a shot, purely for him.”
Their competition in the sport is against the clock, too. There are two games per day, but the players are in action for a maximum of 17 minutes. It means that distance is important. “It’s 15 metres from back to front. It is hard to throw with a wrist when you throw five times that far,” said Liston. “I have never thrown as far as this in my life.”
Dingwall, too, saw himself at a disadvantage against Liston: “Being a rightie and such a long throws gives Nico a huge advantage.”
It’s a professional sport but says the match schedule encourages a feeling of camaraderie. “The game starts at 10.15am in the morning and you finish at 11,” he said. “The first 10 minutes everybody is asleep in their bunk beds and then you all rush to be on the bus to the venue at 11am, and from there it’s less and less. It’s just a bunch of teammates, at least on the day.”
“It’s an amazing process,” said Liston. “If you can achieve something in your life and beat the record, that’s pretty spectacular. It’s a great thing that I have achieved now and I think that’s what it is about – if you can achieve goals that you set for yourself.”