HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
National Capital Region athletes were all around the world on the weekend. Let’s start the week with a Weekend Wrap to see what’s new in their busy lives.
A cyclist almost won a tour. Canada moves ahead in men’s basketball, but missed the 2021 Olympics in men’s water polo. Nordic skiers are preparing for worlds. A basketball player has been honoured.
Riding in his first race with his brand new WorldTour team, Mike Woods made a significant impact in the three-day Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var in southern France for Israel Start-Up Nation.
Woods was in a good position to win the General Classification overall title entering Sunday’s third and final stage, but a mechanical issue derailed his plan. He fought hard for 10th in the third stage (18 seconds back) and finished second overall.
Italy’s Gianluca Brambilla of Trek-Segafredo emerged from the intense day of racing over 136 kilometres with the overall victory. Woods finished five seconds behind him in the final standings. Woods opened with a fourth in Stage 1 and a win in Stage 2.
Showing phenomenal strength on the closing, winding hill in the 168.9-kilometre second stage, Woods was in his element as he captured Stage 2 and earned a two-second advantage over first-day leader Bauke Mollema of The Netherlands and Trek-SegaFredo.
“It all worked out for me. My legs hurt, but the team did a fantastic job protecting me. It was my first race with the team, but it went perfectly,” Woods told Cyclingnews after his Stage 2 win.
“It was such a good finish. We went up it the first time and I felt really good, and after going up the first time, I pinpointed where I wanted to attack and was in a great position to do so and just went for it,” he said to Velonews.com.
“This is my first race with Israel Start-Up Nation, Paulo Saldhana, my coach, and Sylvan Adams, the team owner. They brought me on in the hopes of targeting some big races and getting some big wins. It’s nice to start off the year by repaying them.”
Ottawa products power Canadian men’s basketball team to pair of wins
Meanwhile in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Canadian men’s basketball team showed plenty of character, defeating the determined U.S. Virgin Islands 95-93 and 95-90 in the FIBA AmeriCup 2022 Qualifier to advance to the Americas zone championship.
Carleton University alumni Kaza Kajami-Keane and brothers Thomas and Phil Scrubb played significant minutes and had impressive stats, while former University of Ottawa’s Johnny Berhanemeskel and Ottawa BlackJacks’ Kyle Landry had highlight moments.
Kajami-Keane excelled in the second game with 27 points and nine assists in 34 minutes. He had nine points and as many assists again in the first game, which was won on a buzzer-beater jump shot by Landry.
Thomas Scrubb averaged almost 25 minutes a game, and recorded a total of 17 points, 16 rebounds and four assists, while Phil Scrubb registered 16 points, nine assists and six rebounds, while averaging 27 minutes a game.
Johnny Berhanemeskel didn’t dress for the first game against U.S. Virgin Islands or see any action for the first 34 minutes of the second game. But in his six minutes of floor time, he took three three-point shots and converted all three to spark Canada.
“Anytime you put Canada Basketball on your chest, you have to go out and give 110 per cent,” Kajami-Kean said. “It’s an honour. This country has done wonders for me and all of us in that locker room.”
The world cross-country skiing championships start Tuesday and run through March 7 in Oberstdorf, Germany. The Canadian team includes Katherine Stewart-Jones and Laura Leclair, both of Chelsea, and Antoine Cyr of Gatineau.
For the second time in three rounds of basketball, University of Ottawa alumna Angela Ribarich was named Interperformance Player of the Week for first-place Amager in the Danish women’s pro basketball league. In Amager’s 85-67 win over Aabyhoj, she had 18 points, 18 rebounds.
Canada won its opening game at the Olympic men’s water polo qualification tournament in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, but lost its next six pool and playoff games to miss advancing to the 2021 Summer Games. Montenegro, Greece and Croatia are off to Tokyo.
Aleksa Gardijan of Gatineau scored four goals for Canada, including two in Canada’s opening 11-7 win over Brazil, while Bogdan Djerkovic of Ottawa counted three goals, including a pair against Georgia, which came in an 18-10 loss for seventh place.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.