It was a very physical, tight game. Two evenly pitched teams met on Centre Court the Division TB1 Floorball final today. High drama ensued throughout the match with Latvia taking the lead twice. Sweden scored in the final minutes to even the score at 8-8. In the final two minutes Sweden dug deep and scored twice to end the match at 10-8 and claim gold. Glorious, loud celebrations followed from team members, coaches, families and fans. Other Special Olympics teams as well as local visiting schools had gathered to watch the match and gave both teams resounding applause in appreciation for a thrilling final.
So what gave Sweden the winning edge?
"I think we were the calmer team, all our players maintained their composure," said Coach Ingemar Nordh. "This is not an all star team that was selected from different clubs around the country. These athletes play for one club, Kilntem in Southern Sweden and had to compete nationally to qualify for the Special Olympics World Winter Games."
In addition to their composure, Coach Nordh believes they had one other characteristic over their opponents. "Latvia are a great side, they have a few players who can score well. But everyone of our players can score." And they did. Each one on the score sheet in today's final. Though the team has been play together for years, they only joined Special Olympics just over a year ago. So it has made today's victory even more special.
"I feel so happy and proud," said player Johnny Cedervall. " I can't wait to call home with the good news to my wife and our sons and daughters. I believe our cooperation and team spirit brought the gold, every player performed to his best out there today."
For team captain, Christopher Helm, the past year has been life changing. "I've played Floorball for over fifteen years. But since I started competing and training with Special Olympics, I've become a much better player. I want to really thank our coaches too. All week they've been driving us on after each game saying, 'we know you can do it'."
Christopher wants others to take the step he did and join Special Olympics. "Special Olympics is pure fair play. I say to anyone with intellectual disabilities GO PLAY!"