Nfld. & Labrador

Liam Hickey returns home to N.L. with a silver medal from Beijing

Despite his initial disappointment, Hickey said it was still a special experience to win another Paralympic medal. 

The St. John's athlete brought home his 2nd medal for para hockey

Liam Hickey is happy to be home after the 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing. (CBC)

Liam Hickey is proud to have won another Paralympic medal for his country and province — even if he had to settle for silver after a loss to the rival Americans.

The Beijing Paralympic Games were the St. John's athlete's third. He also won silver in para hockey at the 2018 Pyeongchang Paralympics and played wheelchair basketball at the 2016 Rio Games. 

This year, it all came down to the final game between Canada and the U.S. — again. Four years ago, Team Canada suffered a 2-1 defeat in the gold medal game against the U.S. in Pyeongchang. 

Hickey said he feels his team performed well throughout the tournament this year. 

"We had a lot of young guys on the team at their first Paralympics and obviously, we didn't end up with the result we wanted," he said.

The Americans defeated the Canadians 5-0 in the gold-medal game this year for their fourth straight Paralympic title.

"It was a tough one to lose," Hickey said. He said he feels it was Team Canada's best game of the tournament, particularly in the first period. 

"The score, in my opinion, didn't really reflect how the game went," he said.

"But they're a strong team and they capitalized on their chances. And I think we gave them a few too many."

Despite his initial disappointment, Hickey said it was still a special experience to win another medal. 

"In the moment when you lose a big game like that, you're not really thinking about the fact that you still are taking home an Olympic medal or Paralympic medal," Hickey said. 

"Now that I've had a few days to reflect on that, it's an amazing feeling. And to be able to bring that back to my friends and family here at home in the whole province of Newfoundland and Labrador, it's a pretty cool feeling, and I definitely don't take it for granted."

Canada's para ice hockey team repeated as silver medallists as a result of a 5-0 loss to the U.S. in the gold medal game. (Mohd Rasfan/AFP)

The pandemic made it an even more unique experience, said Hickey. A lot of precautions were taken and volunteers were dressed in extensive protective equipment.

"With the COVID issues going on, it was pretty surreal to be there, not only with Canada, but with so many other countries who had to struggle through the last couple of years as well."

However, the COVID-19 restrictions also meant that Hickey's family and friends couldn't go overseas with him to cheer him on. 

"It was definitely a hard pill to swallow," Hickey said, "that they couldn't be there for this one and with how much work they do as well on the sides to support me, it was sad to not have them there." Hickey said it was a common frustration among his fellow athletes.

Hickey is back home now for the first time in a few months. He said he's still adjusting to the time change and plans to rest for at least the next few weeks. 

"We still have a selection camp coming up in September that I'll start to prep for throughout the summer, but I just want to enjoy this summer. It's been a long four years and again, two years in particular with COVID. But I think I just want to take some time, golf a lot and hang out with my buddies and my girlfriend and just enjoy it."

As for his medal, Hickey says he'll frame it one day but there's no rush.

"My medal usually sits around my house for months after I get it," Hickey said, noting that he framed his 2018 silver medal only a month before he left for Beijing.

"I'm sure this one will end up in a frame soon."

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