Amanda Dennis has already set her sights on next year’s World Championships in Malmo, Sweden, from 3-9 June, and the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, after helping the USA women’s goalball team return to the Paralympic podium in Rio.
World champions USA won bronze following a 3-2 victory over Brazil, leaving behind the disappointing performance from London 2012, when they were eliminated by China in the quarter-finals.
The last time they had reached the Paralympic podium was in Beijing, China, in 2008, when they claimed gold ahead of China and Denmark, who completed the podium.
“It feels amazing to have won my first Paralympic medal,” said Dennis, who competed at two Paralympics.
“Ever since London 2012 I have been working hard daily to make sure that I can be a better asset to the team. We all had the goal of medalling in Rio, hitting the podium.”
The USA made it through to the semi-finals, in which they were eliminated by Turkey. But Dennis and her team refused to go back home empty-handed.
“We all worked too hard to go there and walk away with nothing. We have shown that we are a resilient team, and we are very capable of bouncing back and winning after losing a devastating game,” she said.
The 22-year-old also enjoyed the atmosphere at the Paralympics, with large crowds watching every sport.
“The fans were not just cheering for Brazil, they were very open and generous for cheering for some other teams as well, including the USA,” she said.
Dennis says that a lot of strength and training is essential to reach the Paralympic podium and feels she still needs to step up her game in the build-up to next year’s Worlds and, further ahead, the 2020 Paralympics.
“This medal in Rio was not just an end but a beginning! We are now starting a new journey!” she said. “I believe that if you love playing goalball, you will always succeed.”