Rumours of Amy Burk’s retirement from the national goalball team have been greatly exaggerated, says the captain.
The story has been making the rounds that the four-time Paralympian is coming home from Tokyo and likely won’t make another appearance at the quadrennial event.
Burk set the record straight in a phone call with the Observer, saying this would “definitely not” be her last Paralympics.
“I was calling (my husband) after our game,” said Burk. “And he said, ‘There’s a bunch of news reporters saying that these are your last games, why are you telling them that?’ And I haven’t told anyone that.”
The goalball veteran intends to continue international competition with Team Canada, with Paris 2024 on the horizon.
“It’s three years until Paris,” said Burk. “Assuming I can still run with the big dogs in three years in Paris, then by all means.”
Burk not only wants to be at the Paris Games, but a lifetime goal of hers is to make the podium. In four Paralympic Games, the Charlottetown native has never medaled, but she isn’t about to give up.
“I want to be on the podium,” said Burk. “We’ve been so close at times and I feel like my mission will not be complete unless I have a medal, and it would be even cooler to see the Canadian flag up on the top.
“But to just make it to the podium at these games, or at the Paralympics, is a huge accomplishment.”
Although the Canadian team captain hasn’t been on the podium at a Paralympics, she has led her team to two World Championship gold medals, as well as a bronze, and two third places at the Parapan Am Games (2011, 2019).
Team Canada lost its opening match in Tokyo to the Russian Paralympic Committee, but kept the hope alive, defeating Israel. Unfortunately, after two straight losses to Australia and China, the Canadians were headed home after the preliminaries, but not without some great memories.
“If there’s one thing we’re going to take away from these Games, it’s the memories that our group has shared together and they are going to be lifelong memories that we’re always going to be able to look back on,” said Burk.
“You can still have fun in those high pressure games … and it’s those type of memories that you want people to cherish and to remember.”
The Canadian women’s goalball team has a mixture of returning and new players, including up-and-coming star Emma Reinke, whom Burk believes can be up there one day with some of the greats.
Battling a back injury in Tokyo, Burk stayed on the sidelines a bit more than usual, but she remained a leader on and off the court, especially with the younger players like Reinke.
“It’s complete night and day when I’m on the court or on the bench, just the energy that you can feel on the court,” said Burk. “They’re getting so much better with that and it’s going to come from experience for sure for the younger guys.
“They definitely do look up to me.”
In preparation for Paris, Burk intends to spend the next couple of years competing in internationally with Team Canada.