By Dan Plouffe
Samantha Cornett and Melanie McCann were the two athletes from Ottawa to earn the best results early on at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Cornett won a pair of squash medals, taking bronze in the team event to go alongside her silver in the individual competition.
“I’m going to take my medal home and show it to my mom and dad and my sister,” Cornett said in a Canadian Olympic Committee news release. “I learned a little bit more about myself. I know that I can do it, I know what I want to be, and it’s not miles away.”
Cornett handled her opponent from Argentina easily in the first round, upset a U.S. rival in four sets in round two, beat fellow Canadian Mirandi Ranieri in the semi-finals, and fell to the Mexican champion in the final.
McCann, who moved to Ottawa last year to work with national team coach John Hawes full-time, missed the podium by one step in modern pentathlon but achieved a bigger prize by earning a qualification position for next summer’s London Olympics.
“I don’t even have the words,” the 21- year-old told the COC. “I feel so excited, so happy and so relieved.”
McCann excelled in fencing and swimming (placing third and fifth respectively), placed 11th in equestrian but wasn’t too far off the top score, while her ninth-place showing in the combined shooting and running event kept her off the podium but did earn the coveted Olympic berth.
Christina Julien of the Ottawa Fury scored Canada’s first goal in a 3-1 victory over Costa Rica to open the women’s soccer competition Tuesday, while Rachelle Beanlands served as the backup goalkeeper in the contest.
Young swimmers Karyn Jewell and Ashton Baumann had similar experiences in the pool for their top events.
Jewell, 17, placed second in her 400-meter individual medley preliminary heat behind the U.S. gold medalist to advance to the ‘A’ final, where she placed seventh overall. Baumann, 18, placed third in his 200 m breaststroke heat to reach the Pan Am ‘A’ final where he also finished seventh.
Stephan Wojcikiewicz made it through two rounds in the men’s badminton competition, beating competitors from Brazil and Dominican Republic before losing to Cuba 21-18 in the deciding set of the quarter-finals.
Mo Zhang won all three of her matches against Peru, Cuba, and Mexico in the women\’s table tennis singles group round Tuesday, while the Canadian men’s and women’s teams that also featured Pradeeban Peter-Paul, Pierre-Luc Hinse, and Pierre-Luc Thériault were defeated earlier in the quarter-final round.
Gabriela Dabrowski lost in the first round of tennis mixed doubles, and then later won her first-round singles match over a Chilean opponent 6-4, 6-0 before falling to a U.S. competitor 6-2, 6-0.
The majority of Ottawa’s representatives at the Pan Am Games begin their competitions this weekend and next week.
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