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HIGH ACHIEVERS: Rideau Canoe Club’s Kieran Graham, Toshka Besharah strike gold at home nationals

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

By Martin Cleary

WEEKEND WRAP: Kieran Graham just can’t wait for Tuesday. The excited Rideau Canoe Club paddler mentioned that several times discussing his gold-medal effort Monday at the Canadian canoe-kayak sprint championships.

During the opening day of the national finals on the calm Mooney’s Bay racecourse, Graham led from start to finish to capture the first Rideau medal, when he won the boys’ U18 C1 (canoe single) 200-metre race in 42.919 seconds.

Mississauga Canoe Club’s Lucas Stringer was a close second, only 0.936 seconds behind Graham in 43.855. Carleton Place Canoe Club’s Max Hong was sixth, 46.455, and Rideau’s Samuel Smith took ninth, 47.619.

“It was good,” Graham said. “I had a very strong start and focused on my paddling. The end wasn’t my best ever, but I got the win. But tomorrow (Tuesday) is really, really important.”

If Graham places first or second in Tuesday evening’s boys’ U18 C1 500 metres, he said he will qualify to represent Canada at the world junior and U23 championships Sept. 3-6 in Montemor-O-Velho, Portugal.

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Graham, a national champion in U16 C1 200 metres and U16 C4 500 metres as well as a bronze medallist at the Olympic Hopes meet in 2019, also will compete in the 1,000-metre race Wednesday.

The 2021 national championships, which are being staged by the Rideau Canoe Club, were slated to be held in Ottawa in 2020, but were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The racers are restricted to individual canoe and kayak races.

Toshka Besharah. File photo

In the evening finals, Cascades’ Sophia Jensen of Chelsea, Que., came within a third of a second of defeating double 2020 Olympic medallist Laurence Vincent-Lapointe in the senior women’s C1 200 metres.

Vincent-Lapointe, who won silver and bronze medals in the debut of women’s canoe racing at the 2020 Olympics, won in 45.928 seconds. Jansen, racing in her speckled, lime green boat, was the silver medallist in 46.304.

Rideau’s Toshka Besharah won the U18 women’s K1 500 metres, and Amelia Wojtyk of Rideau took third in the U18 women’s C1 500 metres. Former Cascades’ racer Maddison MacKenzie of Lac-Beauport was third in the senior women’s K1 200 metres.

Rattray rockin’ early at women’s hockey worlds

Jamie Lee Rattray of Kanata is off to a strong start for undefeated Canada (2-0) at the world women’s hockey championship in Calgary. In her fifth worlds during her eighth year in the senior program, Rattray has one goal, six shots on net and is a plus-4.

“The big thing for us is to play physical and be confident,” Rattray said in a phone interview. “As Canadians, we pride ourselves in being a physical hockey team. We can use that to our advantage.”

Canada plays Switzerland on Tuesday and the United States on Thursday to complete its round-robin pool play. All eight teams will make the quarterfinals.

Jr. Grand Prix silver for Gloucester Skating Club product

Former Gloucester Skating Club athlete Kaiya Ruiter of Calgary performed a flawless freeskate program to win the women’s singles’ silver medal at the ISU Junior Grand Prix figure skating meet in Courchevel, France.

Ruiter, 15, exceeded all three of her personal-best scores to place second – short program, 59.50 points; freeskating, 118.10; and total score, 177.60. American Lindsay Thorngren won gold with 181.45 points.

“I’m so excited,” said Ruiter, who placed second in the freeskate and third in the short program. “Just to come here in Courchevel and perform in front of a live crowd was really special.”

“The (freeskate) program is about strength and determination. I just wanted to go out there and skate a personal best and give everything I have. I enjoyed the whole thing from the second I got on the ice to the second I got off.”

Britannia Yacht Club racer lands silver

Competing on his home waters at the Britannia Yacht Club, Duncan Whitrow placed second overall during the 2021 Canadian International Laser Class Association Masters Championships.

Royal Vancouver Yacht Club’s grand master Allan Clark was the overall champion with a net 36.0 points, while Whitrow, who sails as a master, finished with a net 53.0 points. Clark won two of the seven races, while Whitrow had a highlight two seconds.

Whitrow’s performance also earned him first place in the masters category, while Britannia clubmate Matthew Hobbs was third in masters and sixth overall with 72.0 net points. He had one second- and one third-place results.

Capital Courts basketball player leading Canada at U16 Americas tourney

At the FIBA U16 Americas women’s basketball championship in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico, Canada stormed past Brazil in its opening game 82-56. Canada will play Costa Rica on Tuesday and Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

Small forward Cassandre Prosper of Rosemere, Que., who plays in the Capital Courts Academy program based at Cairine Wilson Secondary School, had a team-high 24 points, nine rebounds and 24:43 minutes in the win against Brazil.

Guard AJ Osman of Ottawa has been selected to the Canadian team for the FIBA U16 Americas men’s basketball championship in Xalapa, Mexico. Canada will play Argentina, Mexico and Brazil respectively Monday through Wednesday.

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