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Sunday, May. 19, 2019
Meghan Mahon and Team Canada earn a spot at Worlds
by Randy Pascal

All athletes who strive to compete at an elite level are forced to overcome some hurdles and challenges along the way.

Some, however, face far more initial obstacles than others, right out of the gate.

A native of Timmins who has called Sudbury home these past few years, Meghan Mahon has become a fixture on the Canadian women’s goalball team. Celebrating her 22nd birthday in January, the Cambrian College student was born with a genetic condition, achromatopsia, a cone-rod retinal dystrophy condition that leaves her with about 10% vision.

In 2016, she partipated in the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, helping Canada to a 6th finish, and recently returned from the IBSA (International Blind Sport Association) Americas Goalball Competition. Not only did Mahon and her teammates claim gold, reeling off seven straight wins, including victories over the USA and Brazil, but they also qualified for the World Championships in Malmo (Sweden) in June.

“We actually went in with a relatively young, developing team,” conceded Mahon, the defensive stalwart of the squad. “Three of the five of us were paralympians. We brought another up and comer who is quickly making a statement on the international scene, and another who was making her international debut.”

Taking advantage of a week-long training sequence in Brazil as well as early round robin matchups with Mexico, Costa Rica and Peru, the Canadian side were able to gradually build momentum. A 5-4 win over the USA, a team which medalled in Brazil last summer, served notice that Canada was peaking at the right time, completing preliminary round action with a record of 5-0 thanks to a 4-3 win over Brazil.

"We played the U.S. and they had done the same thing as us, bringing a young squad," said Mahon. "We really had teams that were very similar in design." Finishing first atop the standings, Canada advanced easily over Mexico (11-2) in one semi-final, while the host Brazilians upset the U.S. 4-3 in overtime in the remaining elimination match.

The result ensured Mahon and company their spot in Sweden, though there was still more to come. "We came here to go 7-0,” recalled Mahon. “And in a sense, there's nothing quite like beating a country when they’re at home, with the crowd going nuts.” Jumping out to a 4-1 lead, Canada needed a late tally to cap off a 6-4 win, returning home with gold. “That last minute of play was beyond nerve-wracking,” said Mahon. “It felt like the longest nine seconds of our lives.”

“The sense of accomplishment was special,” she added. “It’s the highest a Canadian (women’s) team has finished in a while. It felt pretty great.”

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