Aquatics Elite Amateur Sport Para Sport

Ottawa at the Paralympics Day 6: Must-win match for Canada’s goalball team

This article was first sent to subscribers of the Ottawa at the Paralympics Daily Newsletter. Sign up to receive it, for free, here.

By Kieran Heffernan, Madalyn Howitt & Dan Plouffe

The final group stage match for the Ottawa-powered women’s goalball team starts early tomorrow morning at 1:45 a.m. ET. The team will face China in a must-win game, after Australia beat the defending world champions, the RPC. Canada is currently in last place after Australia’s win. If the team loses, they won’t move on to the quarterfinals. If they win, all five Group C teams will have a 2-2 record and Canada would advance, most likely in third position thanks to goal differential.

Canada’s goalball team has a wide range of athletes, from first-time Paralympians like Emma Reinke, to veterans like Amy Burk and Whitney Bogart. As Bogart described to the Sports Pages‘ Madalyn Howitt, having so many players of different ages and personalities spending much of their time together, all working towards a shared objective, makes the team feel like a family.

For Bogart, that feeling of being part of a family is one of her favourite parts of the sport.

“I’m often referred to as the ‘team mom’,” laughed Bogart. “I’m fairly calm and relaxed all the time, so it’s a thing that helps with people being able to approach me and just talk things out if they need to.”

Bogart initially started out in sport as a swimmer, and while she still enjoys the discipline, the solo nature of competitions wasn’t as appealing to her as being part of a team.

Her experience from two prior Paralympics is something she’s keen to share with her younger teammates.

“I like seeing our younger players reach their potential. When I was younger, I never really thought about myself in the role of where the veterans were on the team, so now it’s cool to be in that reverse situation. I just really enjoy having the young ones around and watching them grow and being able to help them when they need the help,” highlighted the 35-year-old.

One of those young people is 23-year-old Reinke.

“Whitney is very patient. She’s quiet [and] brings a calm energy,” Reinke said. “There’s a lot of positivity in there and we get along really well — I often find myself at Whitney’s house.”

Whitney Bogart. Photo: Dan Galbraith/Canadian Paralympic Committee

Another person who spends a lot of time with Bogart off the court is Burk, who also happens to be her sister-in-law.

“We live a couple of minutes away from each other and our kids are all basically the same age, so we’re always together,” explained Bogart. The time they spend together as a real-life family has had a positive impact on their competitive play.

“We’ve developed a relationship on the court [where] we don’t even really need to talk to each other anymore,” Burk shared. “We know where each other is all the time and when we’re handing off the ball it’s very easy and seamless for the two of us.”

Bogart has certainly built a reputation as a beacon of support for her teammates, and she says she feels the same energy from them. That’s why this past year, with restrictions on team practices and social gatherings, was difficult for Bogart.

“I had a harder time working out on my own because I enjoy working out with other people,” she said. “I had to learn how to push myself to still get the same workouts in on my own.”

~~~~~~~~~ Advertisement ~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~ Advertisement ~~~~~~~~~

The motivation to be her best in Tokyo for herself and for her team, however, kept her focused on staying strong.

“I got the extra year to be even better than what I was, so I can’t let up,” Bogart said. “I’m just happy that the Games have been able to happen. I’m just going in with an open mind that things are going to be different, but there’s so much still to look forward to.”

“Ever since Tokyo was awarded the Games we’ve been saying ‘I can’t wait to go to Tokyo’ because [they] are going to be amazing games,” she added. “Japan in general is so accessible so we know that the Paralympics are going to be really well done.”

Like her teammates, Bogart also hopes more coverage of the Paralympics will mean more interest in goalball.

“In my career I’ve seen it adapt and change quite a bit, and I hope that it continues to grow, and we get more players and more countries playing the sport,” she said. “It’s still so unknown. It’d be nice to say, ‘I play goalball’ and [people know] like they do basketball,” she said.

Ottawa Paralympians’ Day 7 schedule:

Camille Bérubé‘s third race of the Paralympics, the S7 100m Backstroke, begins tomorrow at 4:07 a.m. ET. This race only has six competitors, so there will be no heats, only one final.

Prior to these Games, Bérubé had never reached a Paralympic final, but has now done so in both her two previous races, the 200m individual medley and the 100m breaststroke.

This article was first sent to subscribers of the Ottawa at the Paralympics Daily Newsletter. Sign up to receive it, for free, here.

HELP SHINE A LIGHT ON LOCAL SPORT! The Ottawa Sports Pages has proudly provided a voice for local sport for over 10 years, but we need your help to continue another 10 and beyond. Please donate to the Ottawa Sports Pages Fund today.

Leave a Reply