By Liam Morgan

Double Olympic discus champion Virgilijus Alekna was one of the famous sportsmen to try their hand at goalball ©Getty ImagesFamous Lithuanian sportsmen, politicians and leaders in the arts have tried their hand at goalball for the first time at an event organised to promote the sport ahead of the 2015 International Blind Sports Association (IBSA) Goalball European Championships in Kaunas in July.

Double Olympic discus gold medallist Virgilijus Alekna and high-profile former basketball players Anatolijus Ciupkovas, Vitoldas Masalskis, Virginijus Jankauskas and Gediminas Budnikas took part at the event, called "Playing in the Dark", along with Lithuanian singer Liudas Mikalauskas, as well as other politicians and artists.

"It's a strange feeling when you can't see anything," Alekna, winner of Olympic gold medals Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, said.

"[It's] unusual to trust only what you hear.

"It was not easy at all for me to play goalball, because I had to use my arms to find my position and the space feels completely different with your eyes closed.

"That is why we have to support and be so proud of our blind sportsmen, who represent our country on the top level."

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite is a patron of the IBSA Goalball European Championships which begin in Kaunas on July 5 ©Getty ImagesLithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite is a patron of the IBSA Goalball European Championships which begin in Kaunas on July 5 ©Getty Images

Ciuopkovas, who played for Kaunas-based BC Zalgiris, also revealed how he found playing a sport meant for the visually impaired enlightening.

"I lost my orientation completely and scored a goal into my own nets," he said.

"We are not used to base our lives on listening and touching.

"I recommend everybody to try this game - it made me so sensitive to understand better what it is like to be visually impaired and train Paralympic sport in such a high level."

Kaunas is due to host the 2015 IBSA Goalball European Championships from July 5 to July 12, and the tournament will feature the likes of Lithuania, Spain, Turkey, Germany, Czech Republic, Finland, Belgium, Slovenia, Sweden and Ukraine.

Lithuania President Dalia Grybauskaite is a patron of the Championships.

The sport was added to the 1980 Paralympic programme for the Games in Arnhem and has grown in popularity since.

It will be part of the IBSA World Games in Seoul, South Korea, due to take place from May 8 to 18.

"It's like trying to catch a black cat in a completely dark room," singer Mikalauskas added.

"It's like a night game."

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