Canada advances to gold medal game in women’s goalball at Parapan American Games

Canadian Paralympic Committee

November 23, 2023

Men to fight for bronze

Day 6, Goalball women's semifinals

SANTIAGO – Emma Reinke notched a hat trick to lead Canada to a 4-2 victory over two-time defending champions Brazil in the women’s goalball semifinals Thursday at the Parapan American Games.

With the victory, Canada advances to the gold medal game for the first time at the Parapan Ams. It also now has an opportunity to clinch a berth at the 2024 Paralympic Games if it can beat the USA in the gold medal final Friday.

The Americans beat Argentina 8-1 in the other semi.

‘’This is amazing, a real moment,’’ said four-time Paralympian Amy Burk of Charlottetown. ‘’Brazil is a really strong team and we knew to beat them we really were going to have bring our A game.’’

Reinke scored the team’s two goals in the second half to put Canada ahead 4-1. The Brazilians closed the gap with 2:11 remaining to put fans at the edge of their seats. But stellar netminding by the Canadians including a toe-save by Reinke that would have made Carey Price proud, assured the historic win.

‘’The plan was to keep up accuracy, keep up with defence first and I think we did a good job with that,’’ said Reinke from St. Thomas, Ont. ‘’We’ve been building up our confidence all year and it’s been working out.’’

Canada gained a 2-1 lead with 35 seconds left in the first half on a penalty shot goal by Burk. Brazil’s Ruas Duarte had been charged with a high ball foul. Reinke had tied the game at 1-1 just 13 seconds after Brazil opened the scoring near the five-minute mark.

Burk, Reinke and Whitney Bogart of Marathon, Ont. were on the floor the entire game. The other Canadian players are Brieann Baldock of Edmonton, Meghan Mahon of Timmins, Ont., and Maryam Salehizadeh of Vancouver. The head coach is Trent Farebrother of Red Deer, Alta.

Goalball is a unique Para sport for athletes that are visually impaired. In goalball, players throw the ball using a bowling motion into the other team’s net while the opposing players try to block the ball with their bodies. The 1.25 kilogram ball has noise bells which help orientate the players. There are three players on the court for each team during the game.

In the men’s semi, Canada loss 11-4 to the United States and will look to collect a third straight bronze medal at the Games against Argentina on Friday. The team was disappointed it won’t fight in the gold medal game. Blair Nesbitt of Edmonton scored all four Canadian goals.

‘’We put everything into the last four years to get a different result,’’ said Canadian veteran Doug Ripley of Vancouver. ‘’It’s really heartbreaking.’’

The victor of the men’s tournament also gets a ticket to Paris. The Americans face Brazil for gold.

The Canadian women’s team has re-emerged as a power spotlighted by a fourth-place finish at the world championships in December 2022 and the World Games for the visually impaired this past summer.

After the Tokyo Games where it placed ninth, there wasn’t any player changes but an attitude change. The Santiago squad is the exact same players that were in Tokyo.

‘’We decided we needed to change our team identity,’’ said Burk. ‘’We re-amped our team culture. This team is a tight-knit family and we want it to be loud and proud Canadians. We were always quiet and polite but we decided why don’t we do it loud and polite.’’

The Americans handed Canada its only loss so far in five games with a 5-3 win on day one in the preliminary round.

‘’We are going to have bring it like we did against Brazil in the final,’’ said Burk. ‘’We had a really good round robin against the U.S. We just let the penalties get to us. We learned from it, and we’re going to prepare like the final is one of the biggest games of our lives.’’

The Canada-USA gold medal game in women’s goalball goes at 4:30 p.m. local / 2:30 p.m. ET.

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