Nfld. & Labrador

N.L.'s Liam Hickey has gold in his sights at the 2022 Paralympic Games

The Olympics are over, but Newfoundland and Labrador is still on the global sports stage, with Liam Hickey of St. John's gearing up for the upcoming 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing.

Hickey has a para hockey silver medal from 2018, and Canada's goal this year is to leave China as the champs

Liam Hickey of Newfoundland and Labrador is gearing up for the 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing. (@HC_WSHC/Twitter)

The Olympics are over, but Newfoundland and Labrador is still on the global sports stage, with Liam Hickey of St. John's gearing up for the upcoming 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing.

This year will mark Hickey's second appearance with Team Canada's Paralympic para hockey squad. In 2018, the team brought home a silver medal.

Hickey will also serve as an alternate captain this year. 

"It's been going good. It's been an interesting year, for sure, with all of the COVID situations and everything like that," Hickey told CBC News on Wednesday. 

"We're just happy to be where we are right now getting ready for Beijing."

Originally from Holyrood, Hickey was born without a femur in his right leg, but that didn't stop him from being physically active and setting a very high bar for athletics in his life.

The pandemic disrupted the team's training schedule over the last year, said Hickey, with practices being held in person just once a month. He said most preparations were left to the individual players to take on at their home rinks. 

Despite those challenges, Hickey said, it's been a good year. 

Hickey won silver in the 2018 games. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images/File)

"This is a great opportunity for us. We have a young team this time around," he said. 

"We're really excited to show what we've worked toward. We've got … eight or nine new guys that have never been to a Paralympics. [It's] a super-exciting time for everyone and especially for them."

Dreaming of gold

Hickey got involved with parasports when he was eight years old. Wheelchair basketball and sledge hockey gave him a sense of freedom, he said, and something he could use to push himself. 

Since then, in addition to his Paralympic silver medal, he's notched gold and silver medals from world championships in para hockey. He also represented Canada at the 2016 Paralympic Summer Games in wheelchair basketball.

"When I heard of the Paralympics, that became my main goal instead of winning a Stanley Cup or an NBA championship," he said.

"I was lucky enough to get into the national programs pretty early in my career and that helped me develop pretty quickly." 

Canada lost 2-1 in overtime in the gold medal game against the United States at the 2018 games in South Korea. With a fresh team this year, the focus is on leaving China as champions, Hickey said.

"That's all we work for. Gold is what we have on our minds every day when we wake up to train," he said. 

"2018 was pretty disappointing, to lose in overtime and come so close to that gold. I think we'll be fighting extra-hard for our chance to get into the gold medal game this time around."

Team Canada leaves for China on Friday. The Paralymics begin March 4.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from On The Go

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