Meghan Mahon feels she’s learned from the best

Canadian Paralympic Committee

October 26, 2023

Mentorship key to Canadian women’s goalball success


TORONTO – Meghan Mahon has emerged as one of the key veterans on Canada’s women’s goalball team as it prepares for an important tournament at the Parapan Am Games next month in Santiago.

Mahon is vying for a third straight appearance at next year’s Paralympic Games and Canada would earn its ticket to Paris 2024 with gold in Chile. 

Goalball is a sport for the visually impaired in which the 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.

Unique to the Paralympic Games, goalball was added to the Games program in 1976 for the men and 1984 for the women. The Canadian women have won five Paralympic medals including consecutive golds in 2000 and 2004, and have qualified for every Games except in 1996.

Mahon says one of the major factors in the team’s consistency is the continued presence of strong veteran leadership.

‘’I look at Amy Burk (four-time Paralympian) as my mentor,” said Mahon, 27, from Timmins, Ont. and now residing in Calgary. ‘’She is a longstanding captain on our team and the way that she carries herself is outstanding. It’s something that I hope younger athletes can look at me and want to aspire to be that because they see that as a positive impact on the team.”

Mahon remembers the trepidation she felt when she was a rookie team member and how her teammates took her under their wing.

‘’I was the only rookie on the team,” she recalled. ‘’They had so many years of support to offer. I look at one of my teammates, the late Nancy Morin. Her first Games was the year I was born and in 2016 we were on the court together.”

Born with a genetic condition called achromatopsia which affects the cones and rods in one’s eyes, Mahon’s parents didn’t deter her from participating in sport. In fact, despite only 10 percent vision, she played against able-bodied athletes in sports like hockey.

‘’As someone born with a visual impairment, it’s the only world that I know,” she said. “So being able to just adapt every day in my daily life, it was just normal for me.

‘’I started getting older and sports started getting faster. My hockey coach would call from the bench which corner the puck was going into as I’m coming back on defense or something like that.”

In 2012, Mahon was attending the Ontario Blind Sports Association’s summer sports camp when she was introduced to goalball. She didn’t think much of the sport until a year later when she switched to W. Ross Macdonald School for the blind for her grade 12 year and was reintroduced to the goalball. 

She soon began playing goalball for Team Ontario. Mahon remained at W. Ross for an additional year, graduating in 2015.

“I think what really hooked me into goalball was the fact that it was a team sport,’’ said Mahon, who currently works as a child and youth worker for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind in Calgary.
‘’Growing up I was always on those team sports, and I really enjoyed having that companionship of others to finish a tough game and to know that you didn’t finish it alone.” 

It will be that team chemistry that’ll be essential for Canada to win the gold in Santiago.

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