By Charlie Pinkerton
In March 2010 Tyrone Henry admired Paralympic sledge hockey from home. It was unbeknownst to him or anyone at that time, that in just over a year and a half’s time he would first strap into a sled to pursue a goal he set in the wake of a tragedy.
Henry was paralyzed following a car accident in September 2010. His father, Andrew Henry, said no more than three hours after the accident that he pledged to make the Paralympics in the sport he watched played from afar in Vancouver, only months before.
“He set his goal right there that he was going to play for Team Canada eventually,” Andrew Henry said.
Henry had medical restrictions for a year and wasn’t able to first strap into a sledge until September 2011.
“From there, he saw exponential progress,” his father said.
Henry competed in a range of para-sports since the accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down, but sledge hockey (now called para ice hockey officially at the Paralympics) has been his focus.
Henry first started playing with the Ottawa-based Sledge Hockey of Eastern Ontario (SHEO) team, before playing for Team Ontario and eventually Team Canada. He first joined the country’s national sledge development team in 2014.
“Being named to (Team Canada) first of all was a big deal, but his goal had always been to play in the Paralympics,” Andrew Henry, the one-time volunteer president of SHEO, said.
To date, Andrew Henry says that winning the 2017 World Para Ice Hockey Championships has been his son’s biggest achievement. There, Canada beat the United States 4-1 in the tournament final in South Korea, snapping a double-digit losing streak against the Americans.
“It was really satisfying being able to finally get over that hurdle, and doing something that we knew going into the World Championships we could do,” Tyrone Henry told the Ottawa Sportspage after that tournament. “It was a surreal feeling. We just thought back to all the hard work everybody’s been doing over the course of the season. It felt amazing.”
The Americans have won gold in sledge hockey in each of the last two Paralympic Games.
Henry was a part of a group of Team Canada players that moved to the Greater Toronto Area earlier this year to centralize their training together to try to replicate last year’s World Championships performance at this year’s Paralympics.