By Dan Plouffe
Kate Goodfellow was in the middle of a Canadian gold rush on the Royal Canadian Henley race course in St. Catharines, helping the host nation dominate the Pan Am Games rowing competition.
The Ottawa Rowing Club athlete and her fellow women’s quadruple sculls rowers had watched their Canadian teammates win medals over and over again before their race on the final day, and eagerly joined the parade to the podium with a commanding victory over their challengers.
“It was so exciting to watch our teammates do so well and to be able to cap it off like this,” Goodfellow indicates. “I was so excited to race. Just seeing the success, it was hard to sit around because our final was on the last day, one of the last races. All week we just wanted to get out there and race.”
Canada led the rowing medal table with 11 and picked up four times as many gold as any other nation, with eight.
Goodfellow’s gold came in between two other Canadian victories. The area where the athletes were held before they went out for medal ceremonies was right beside the dock where the next rowers would exit their boats, creating a special scene where the Canadian champions would cycle through and celebrate their triumphs one after the other.
“We came in behind our lightweight men’s four that just won, and they were there to receive us when they got off the water, and it was nice to be there for the men’s eight as well,” highlights Goodfellow, who began rowing as a novice Gee-Gee in her first year at the University of Ottawa. “To see all our programs succeeding is real great. Obviously this is a pretty big moment.”
It was the first major international competition in Canada since the 1999 World Rowing Championships, and the Canadian crowd was primed to see one of the sport’s world powers compete on home water.
“It’s unreal,” says Goodfellow, describing how they felt they had to row the first 1,500 metres of the race and then the final 500 m was a breeze once they heard the roar of the crowd from the finish at the grandstand. “You’re kind of anticipating it. You’re coming through the island and you’re just waiting to hear the crowd because you know they’re there, and it just carries you home.
“They’ve been a huge part of our success this week.”
Goodfellow’s group won their race by a very wide margin, beating 2nd-place USA by nearly 10 seconds in 7:07.63. The U.S. were one of the five women’s quad crews that beat Canada in rough waters at the 2014 World Championships. The Canadians will need to move up at least one position at this year’s worlds Aug. 30-Sept. 6 in France to secure a Rio 2016 Olympic berth.
“I don’t know whether it’s because it’s a pre-Olympic year or having something at home like this, but I think the whole Canadian team just stepped it up,” signals the 25-year-old Perth native. “It’s really encouraging going into our Olympic qualifier this summer and then into next summer. It’s a big boost of confidence.”
This story was named the #8 moment in our list of Ottawa Athletes’ Top-10 International Multi-Sport Games Triumphs.
Follow this countdown and others in our OTTAWA SPORTS PAGES TOP-10’S FOR 10 series on our 10th Anniversary Headquarters webpage.
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