After being postponed a year due to COVID-19, the Paralympic Games are scheduled to take place this August in Tokyo, Japan. Brother John Kusku (Delta Iota Chapter – Western Michigan University – 2003) will be returning to the world stage as one of only ten people representing Team USA in Men’s Goalball.

John first joined Team USA after landing a bronze medal in the 2014 World Championships. He went on to compete in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio and brought home a silver medal after falling to Lithuania, 14-8, in the gold-medal match.

Earning that silver medal was no easy feat. Despite athletic challenges, the atmosphere of the game was turned upside down for first-time competitors. The usual handful of spectators was traded for thousands in a packed arena. “I think I left the court every single game in emotional tears because it was just so loud and incredible,” says Kusku.

Goalball is a sport exclusively for athletes with vision impairment. It is a sport that was invented in 1946 to rehabilitate blind veterans from World War II. It made its Paralympic debut in 1976 in Toronto, Canada.

The object of the game is to roll the ball into the opponent’s goal while the opposing players try to block the ball with their bodies. Bells inside the ball help to orientate the players by indicating the direction of the oncoming ball.

On average, most people have approximately 150 degrees of vision in one eye from side to side. Brother Kusku has less than one (1) degree of vision in each eye. He describes it as “looking through a coffee stirrer.” To keep the game fair due to the varying degrees of blindness, all competitors are required to wear eye masks.

Despite a delay in the games, John continues to train for the event by practicing his dives and throws, along with strength training. Knowing what to expect in Tokyo, Brother Kusku is feeling much more confident than he did in Rio.

We wish him and the rest of Team USA the best at the upcoming Paralympic Games.