An up and down sledge hockey career has made Garrett Riley appreciate the grind with Team Canada.
Breaking his lone-leg last October was not the best news with the Paralympics looming, but hard work and dedication allowed the Brantford, Ont, native to persevere.
Support from family and friends fueled him to compete in his first Winter Games.
“It was just something that I’ve always dreamed of doing — making the Olympics,” said Riley, on a phone call. “So (it was) the Paralympics, in my case, but yeah, just the love of the game and wanting to be there to help (pushed me).
“I think I would have had some regret if I didn’t give it a try.”
In July 2019, Riley received his first medal with Team Canada as they took home the silver in the World Championships.
Unfortunately, the excitement was short-lived, as he was stripped of his medal due to testing positive for cannabis (his team was not affected by the decision). The use was recommended by his doctor to relieve pain Riley experienced from his amputation in 2017.
“It was a consequence that I had to face when trying to get my pain under control to be able to live life, just unfortunate,” said Riley.
With all that in the rear-view, Riley remained resilient. Although, not 100 per cent, Riley managed to score a goal in Beijing.
“My Instagram DMs were blowing up,” he said. “I got messages from a couple of my friends and family.”
Nonetheless, Riley now has a medal he can keep, after Team Canada were defeated 5-0 to the U.S. in the gold-medal game.
“It was not the color that we wanted, but it’s still a silver medal in the Paralympics, so that is unbelievable.”