Canada wins gold in women’s goalball, lands Paralympic Games spot

Canadian Paralympic Committee

November 24, 2023

Men uncork best game of tournament for bronze

Goalball end

Photo: Whitney Bogart and Emma Reinke celebrate gold

SANTIAGO – Canada is going to the Paralympic Games in women’s goalball.

For the second straight game, Emma Reinke notched a hat trick including two goals on penalty shots as Canada defeated the United States 4-3 in an intense gold medal match at the 2023 Parapan American Games.

With the victory, Canada qualifies for the 2024 Paralympic Games in its final opportunity. It is also the team’s first Parapan Am title, after three consecutive bronze medals.

‘’This is what we came here to do,’’ said Amy Burk of Charlottetown, a four-time Paralympian. ‘’We’ve been working so hard over these past couple of years and to finally have it all come together is amazing.

‘’Today’s game was the calmest our team has been.’’

The Canadians got early goals from Reinke and Burk to take a 2-0 lead in the first six minutes of the game. But the Americans didn’t flinch and responded with two goals to put the teams deadlocked after the first half.

Reinke’s two penalty shot goals were in the second half and put Canada up 4-2. The Americans were penalized for illegal coaching and for delay of game. The U.S. made it 4-3 with 5:35 to go but were stymied the rest of the way.

‘’Those were pressure situations,’’ said Reinke, from St. Thomas, Ont., about her penalty shots. ‘’I’m keeping focused on where my feet are, how I’m angled and how I shoot too to hit the right spot.’’

Burk, Reinke and Whitney Bogart played the entire first half. In the second, head coach Trent Farebrother replaced Burk with Meghan Mahon of Calgary.

‘’We knew we had to come out hard,’’ said Mahon. ‘’We wanted to mix it up with me coming in the second half. It really is a full team effort. Amy held it down in the first and she told me it was my turn for the second.’’

The other two players on the squad are Brieann Baldock of Edmonton and Maryam Salehizadeh of Vancouver.

Back in 2021 at the Paralympic Games, the Canadian team finished ninth. But over two years later the exact same six players have qualified the squad for the next Paralympics and lifted it to a number-four world ranking.

‘’We felt we let our country down in Tokyo and we said that’s not going to happen again,’’ said Burk. ‘’We’re all adaptable and we just decided we were going to put a lot of work into it. We all want to win.”

In the men’s bronze medal match, Canada overcame Thursday’s crushing semifinal defeat to the U.S. to defeat Argentina 6-2. It’s the third straight Games the Canadian men earn the bronze. In the preliminary round Canada lost to the Argentines 5-4 but bounced back from the adversity with a remarkable effort.

‘’We had the belief we could accomplish the medal,’’ said Blair Nesbitt, who scored three times on Friday. ‘’After a tough loss that prevented us from qualifying for the Paralympic Games we just stayed as a team and believed in each other. We executed a bit better today but it was the belief in each other that was the key.’’

Mason Smith of Middleton, N.S. added two goals for Canada and Doug Ripley of Vancouver scored the other. The other team members are Brice Parker of London, Ont., Aaron Prevost of Cornwall, Ont., and Ahmad Zeividavi of Vancouver, who played the entire game.

Brazil, the reigning Paralympic champions, defeated the U.S. 10-2 for the gold and the ticket to Paris.

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.

Canada has only missed the Paralympic Games in women’s goalball once and that was in 1996. Women’s goalball was added to the program in 1984. Canada won back-to-back Paralympic titles in 2000 and 2004.

‘’Paris 2024, watch out because Canada’s coming,’’ concluded Burk.

Can Crew Newsletter

Receive the latest news, athlete stories, and behind-the-scenes access directly to your inbox.

"*" indicates required fields