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HIGH ACHIEVERS: Ottawa sports icon Mike Scott celebrates milestone 90th birthday

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-at-Home Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic

By Martin Cleary

Twenty Ottawa and area swimmers are on the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic radar, 16 have received trials’ invites and seven are eyeing the 2021 Tokyo Games.

The modified Canadian Olympic and Paralympic swimming trials are slated for April 7-11 in Toronto, after a three-day, pre-meet training period. There will be a maximum of 20 swimmers in each event.

Strictly following all COVID-19 safety protocols, including physical distancing, all races will be timed finals as each event will have two 10-swimmer competitions. There will be no spectators.

Swimming Canada recently issued its initial list ranking the top 30 athletes in each Olympic event based on long-course race results from Sept. 1, 2018 to Dec. 6, 2020. Trial invitations were sent to the top 20.

The deadline for first-round acceptances was Friday, Jan. 15, and, depending on what races the swimmers select, more invitations could be extended in the second round, beginning Jan. 20.

Eli Wall. File photo

Montana Champagne and Regan Rathwell, both of the Greater Ottawa Kingfish Swim Club, Eli Wall of Toronto Swim Club, Ottawa’s Alexandre Perreault, Smiths Falls’ Bailey Andison of Perth Stingrays Aquatic Club, and Pembroke’s Alyson Ackman of Pointe-Claire S.C. will press for an Olympic berth.

Two-time Paralympian Camille Berube of Natation Gatineau is the only National Capital Region swimmer in the Paralympic swim trials, which will have 44 world-ranked qualifiers.


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Champagne has achieved the FINA B Olympic qualifying time standard in the 400-metre IM (4:21.40) and 200m butterfly (1:59.21), where he’s ranked No. 2 in Canada for both races and is No. 4 in the 200m IM (2:02.09).

“He has had a really good year so far,” said his former University of Ottawa coach Dave Heinbuch. “He’s on the outside a little bit, but we’re hopeful.”

He’s about 2.5 to 3 seconds off FINA A standard in his 200m races.

Wall, a Toronto Titans International Swimming League team member, is No. 2 in Canada in 200m breaststroke (2:12.80) and No. 3 in 100m breaststroke (1:01.70), which are both FINA B standards.

Perreault, who represented Canada at the 2018 world short-course championships and 2019 Universiade, has the B standard in the 100m butterfly (53.47) and is ranked No. 3 nationally.

Andison, who posted good short-course results inside the International Swimming League bubble, is No. 3 and No. 5 respectively in the 200m IM (2:11.33, A standard) and 400m IM (4:45.20, B).

Ackman, a triple medallist at the 2019 Lima Pan-Am Games, has national top-10 rankings in six freestyle races, including five FINA B standards. She’s one to three seconds off the A standard over 100m, 200m and 400m.

Rathwell, who has committed to the University of Tennessee for 2022 and raced the 200m backstroke A final at the 2019 Canadian world championships trials, is ranked No. 5 in 200m back (2:12.39, B), and No. 9 in 100m back (1:01.16, B).

Berube, who competed at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics, is ranked No. 6 in the world in the SM7 class 200m IM. She also will race in S7 backstroke and S6 breaststroke races at the trials.

University of Ottawa Gee-Gees’ Lauren Shearer (200m breaststroke), William Barrett (200m breaststroke), Louis Bertrand (400m freestyle) and Conor Smythe (200m backstroke) will be looking to crack the top 8 at trials.

The top-20 rankings also include five swimmers from the Nepean-Kanata Barracudas Swim Club: Madison Archer, 800m/1,500m freestyle; Mia Zahab, 200m butterfly/400m IM; Megan Wheeler, 200m backstroke; David Quirie, 200m/800m/1,500m freestyle; and Colton Milne, 200m breaststroke.

Hoping for a top-20 promotion after qualified swimmers make their choices are: Gee-Gees’ Adelle Yamashita-Ball, 800m freestyle, and Jamie Demers, men’s 100m breaststroke; Barracudas’ Breckin Gormley, 100m butterfly; and Swim Ottawa’s Gabriel Tejada, 100m butterfly.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for over 47 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.

Martin can be reached by e-mail at martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.

Mike Scott. File photo

By Martin Cleary

Happy Birthday today to Richard Patrick Scott. I see you shaking your head. Name doesn’t ring a bell? Well, he’s an Ottawa sports icon. Let’s carefully slide his first and middle names aside and put in Mike.

That’s better. Anyone who has been connected to the Ottawa amateur sports scene for the past 75 years certainly would have met or at least heard about this soft-spoken and energetic leader in the fields of paddling and boxing.

During his 9 decades involved in 6 sports, Mike Scott has had many titles. Apologies if I have missed some: boxer, canoeist, long-distance runner, triathlete, cross-country skier, coach, commodore, author, builder and hall of famer.

Today, Scott has been bestowed a new title, and he didn’t have to run a marathon, paddle a stroke, take a left hook, or chair a national canoe kayak championship. Welcome Canada’s newest NONAGENERIAN. Yes, Mikey, you’re 90.

“Mike is my nickname,” Scott said in a phone interview as he focuses on rest and relaxation, after falling two months ago and injuring his head. “Back when I was a baby, my mom called me Mikey. I don’t know why. I never found out.”

Some people may remember Mikey as the horror/thriller movie from the early 1990s. But the short form for Michael actually means “who is like God.” Scott would release a hearty laugh about that, but he has many God-like qualities.

Today, he’s thankful for reaching this milestone. If there is a celebration with his wife Lola and sister, it will be small. Maybe a cake. This will give him time to reflect on his years of unselfish service to Ottawa amateur sports.

“I think I’m very lucky I managed to be healthy to reach 90. I’m thankful for that. When you get older, you never know what will come upon you,” added Scott, who has received birthday cards from Lachine and Cartierville canoe clubs.

One reason Scott has hit 90 is because he has always been active. Up until recently, he would paddle eight kilometres three or four times a week with John Bales, a former national juvenile canoe champion and Rideau/national team coach.

“I’m not sure I can still do it. I went out two years ago and got up to 1,000 metres. I paddled easy, but I felt it in my upper body. I possibly may be finished as a paddler. When you’re 90, you’re 90,” he said.

As a young boy, he was a boxer for 10 years and ended his career losing his only lightweight bout at the 1956 Olympic trials in Montreal. Instead of going to Melbourne, Australia, for the Summer Olympics, he turned to canoeing.

Scott joined the Rideau Canoe Club in 1949 and has been a loyal and trustworthy volunteer all these years. He was on the board of directors for 33 years, including 25 years at the club’s longest-serving commodore (1961-85).

During that time, he was the chair for eight Canadian canoe kayak sprint championships at the Rideau. He also managed Canadian competitive teams in Cuba, Italy and the U.S.A. as well as 10 Ontario spring training camps to Florida.

The best memory in his 11-year youth career was winning the Canadian junior war canoe race in 1958. He served as one of the left strokes. As a masters canoeist, he was one of the best, earning 30 CANMAS national titles in 5 classes.

He won seven masters championships in C1, another seven in C2, and 12 in C4, In mixed competitions, he earned another two Canadian titles in C2 and two more in C4.

Scott also loved to enter road races, whether it was five or 10 kilometres or even marathons. He regularly ran the National Capital Marathon in its early days, the 1979 New York City Marathon, and had a personal-best time of 3:35.

He particularly remembers the New York City Marathon. “I didn’t win it,” he said with a laugh. “It was a nice event to go and do once in a lifetime with 20,000 people. It was big. It’s quite a challenge to do a marathon.”

Scott also had an open mind, when it came to amateur sports in Ottawa. He was a member of the Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame nomination committee for several years and sat on the Ottawa Sports Awards board of directors.

He was the 1972 Sportsman of the Year at the ACT amateur sports award dinner, predecessor to the Ottawa Sports Awards, and was inducted into the Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame in 1986 as a builder. In 2002, he wrote a book: The Rideau Canoe Club: A Century of Paddling.

Asked if he had any goals as he moves into his 91st year with the aid of a walker, Scott said “not too many.” But he left the door open to volunteer for the 2021 Canadian canoe kayak championships in August, if the organizing committee can find a role for him.

Not surprising.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for over 47 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.

Martin can be reached by e-mail at martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.


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