STAFFORD Paralympian Jessica Luke’s goalball medal hopes were dashed today after Great Britain lost out to an extra-time golden goal in the quarter finals, writes Sam Jackson.
Britain faced Sweden in the last eight and Anna Sharkey gave them the lead, only for their opponents to hit back with an equaliser.
That sent the tie into extra time and it was Sweden who scored the winning golden goal in the opening seconds of the added period.
The sport, played by blind and partially sighted athletes such as Jessica, made its debut in the Paralympics 32 years ago, during the 1980 Olympic and Paralympic games in Moscow.
All players are required to wear eyeshades and teams consist of three players, all guarding their net whilst trying to score in the opponentís goal using a ball with bells inside.
Luke, 24, along with the British team, lost the opening game to China quite heavily. The final score was 7-1, with the women holding firm in the first half but unfortunately falling away in the second.
GB had been narrowly defeated by the world champions in the official London 2012 test event last December but there was to be no repeat of that close encounter.
However Britain bounced straight back as they drew 1-1 against Finland in an enthralling match, signalling their intent on achieving a medal.
Luke scored to equalise and saved a late penalty in that game, earning Great Britain a dramatic draw.
After the match she said of her penalty heroics: “The crowd went mental but somehow it gave me focus to save the ball. Itís an indescribable feeling.
“It was nerve-wracking. It was incredibly intensive for a group game.” The British women followed up that performance by claiming their first victory of London 2012 with a 3-1 win over Brazil, in which Jessica also scored along with Southend team-mate Sharkey.
The win was enough to secure a quarter- final berth for the team with one game left to play, a fantastic achievement for a team not expected to make it out of their group.
Great Britain continued their great run of form by rounded off their group games in style, sweeping aside Denmark 5-0, with Luke scoring the second goal and Sharkey a hat-trick.
With the team’s place in the last eight already confirmed, this victory ensured they finished second in their qualifying group.
However, it was not to be for the Great Britain team, as the quarter final stage proved a step too far.