RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Amy Burk overcame a major setback on her road to Rio, but she reaped the ultimate reward inside the Future Arena.
Burk scored the winning goal with three minutes left as the Canadian women’s goalball team earned a 3-2 victory over Ukraine.
“It is amazing to be back,” said Burk moments after the game. “I thought my career was over after Toronto (Parapan Am Games, 2015) and I still get emotional about it because I wanted to help the team win gold on home soil (the team claimed bronze).”
The 26-year-old was disqualified from playing goalball in 2015. Under certain conditions her vision can improve, which is what happened during testing.
She said that it couldn’t be sweeter to be back in action.
“I had a great legal team, we won the appeal and I got classified again,” Burk said. “I wake up every morning and I am just happy to be here.”
The Charlottetown, PEI, native said the low-scoring match was a credit to strong defensive performances by both teams.
“That is how games are going to be here, they are going to be defensive,” Burk said. “We are just going to have to be perfect and take the goals whenever the other team makes that one mistake.”
Although a veteran of the 2008 and 2012 Paralympics, Burk said her nerves were still fluttering before the match in Rio.
“I am always a tiny bit nervous before every game, but nerves are good, it means you care,” Burk said. “We just have to go in and ignore the crowd and play like we know we can.”
The two-time world champion said she has seen a monumental rise in the global talent level since the Paralympics in 2012.
“We have a great 10 teams here and it’s going to be a real fight to the podium,” Burk said. “This is the first time in a while there has been such a good competitiveness across the world.”
The crowd inside the Future Arena was vibrant and loud but Burk said it didn’t hurt Canada’s performance.
“Before coming here, we were doing a camp in Toronto and we had a kids’ day camp going on,” Burk said. “It is a little different when it is a stand with five to 10,000 people, but we block it out and just focus on the task in hand.”