Local Goalball Athlete Goes for the Gold

Published on June 28, 2021

ST. THOMAS—With strong family support and a whole community behind her, 23 year-old Emma Reinke of St. Thomas will soon head to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games as a member of the Canadian women’s goalball team.  

Born premature at just 2lb 8oz, Emma was diagnosed with Retinopathy of Prematurity. She is blind in her left eye and has limited vision in her right eye with no peripheral vision, and this is not correctable. Her family was already familiar with medical adversities as mom Heather has suffered from Lupus and other health challenges since the age of 19. Her fighting spirit has proven to be an example for Emma in overcoming the odds. 


Emma attended the W. Ross MacDonald School for the Blind and Low Vision from grades 9-12. She was introduced to goalball in grade 9 and quickly excelled in the sport as she showed incredible natural talent. At age 18, she made the National Team. She has traveled the world representing Canada over the past 5 years. Traveling to Sweden, Japan, Brazil, USA, and Peru, and playing on 4 different continents, she has helped bring home medals for Canada at the Junior Worlds, The Americas, and other international events. In Brazil, Canada brought home a Gold Medal in the Americas Tournament. 


Goalball is the official sport for the blind and low vision. It originated in the aftermath of the Second World War as rehabilitation for blinded veterans. Played on a regular gym court the size of a volleyball court, players are blindfolded. The ball has a bell in it and players use their hearing to locate the ball that has been underhand thrown down the court. It is 3 on 3 with a goal the length of the end of the court. The ball is around the size of a large basketball and is heavy and difficult to bounce. The ball must hit the floor before the 1/4 mark of the court, otherwise a penalty is called. The game has 2 halves of 12 minutes per half with stop time when the ball is thrown out of bounds. With a good defense, it is difficult to score.  


Emma will compete as one of three Ontario players on a team whose membership spans the entire country. She is also one of three players making their Paralympic Games debut. In Tokyo, Team Canada will be playing against Russia, USA, Brazil, Israel, Japan, Egypt, Turkey, China, and Australia. The Games run from August 24 to September 5 and the full schedule can be found here. 




“This is incredibly exciting news for Emma and her family. So much hard work and dedication is behind this achievement and I know that Emma will do St. Thomas very proud as an ambassador on the world stage.” 

-Jeff Yurek, MPP Elgin-Middlesex-London 


 “It has been a true pleasure watching Emma grow up into the incredible and courageous athlete that she is today. With her friends and family I want to wish Emma all the best as she travels to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Games with the Canadian women’s goalball team. Emma, on behalf of the constituents of Elgin-Middlesex-London we are all cheering you on!”

-Karen Vecchio, MP Elgin-Middlesex-London