Canoe-Kayak Elite Amateur Sport

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Sophia Jensen wins 4 world U23 canoe medals (2 gold), Rideau paddlers earn 2 bronze

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By Martin Cleary

WEEKEND WRAP: For a rapid-fire, arm-churning, world champion canoeist, Sophia Jensen of Cascades Club also is a fine fisherwoman. But she didn’t know that until she reached the world junior/U23 canoe championships.

Halfway through her C1 200-metre heat in the U23 class, she said her paddle “just stopped.” Jensen finished the race in second place to qualify for the semifinals, but her paddle didn’t feel right.

Once Jensen, who won a combined six gold medals at the 2018 and 2019 world juniors, returned to land, a race official told her she had speared a fish with her paddle. That wasn’t the only thing she caught during the four-day world championships.

The 19-year-old made a thunderous entrance into a new age category by winning four of Canada’s nine medals – two gold, one silver and one bronze – in a full variety of U23 canoe disciplines.

National Capital paddlers actually earned six of the country’s nine medals as Rideau Canoe Club’s Toshka Besharah took bronze in women’s junior K1 200 metres and clubmate Ella Hodgson-Pageau earned bronze in junior C1 200 metres.

It was the second time Besharah and Hodgson-Pageau had won a medal at the world junior championships, a first for Rideau. In 2019, Besharah won K4 bronze, while Hodgson-Pageau picked up a C2 silver.

Canada finished third in the U23 medal standings at three gold, two silver and one bronze; 13th overall in the junior class, 0-0-3; and fifth overall at 3-2-4.

After a convincing win in her C1 200-metre semifinals, Jensen scored an impressive victory in the final in 46.59 seconds and earned the gold medal by 0.14 seconds over Georgia’a Marlami Kerdikashvili.

“I couldn’t be any happier right now. It has been a crazy long year. I’m happy I threw down the best I could. I love this race,” Jensen said in an interview after the race, adding she felt honoured to race against the high-class field.

Two days before Jensen won her seventh world championship, but this time on the waters of Montemore-O-Velho, Portugal, she joined Lac Beauport’s Anna Roy-Cyr to take bronze in the C2 500 metres, finishing three-tenths of a second out of second.

On the final day of the worlds, Jensen teamed with Lac Beauport’s Alik Plomteaux to win the inaugural mixed C2 500 metres, and was silver medallist in the women’s C4 500 metres with Roy-Cyr, Sloan Mackenzie and Anne Parent.

Rideau’s Ydris Hunter was in the Canadian men’s U23 C4 500-metre boat with Plomteux, Andrew Billard and Connor Fitzpatrick, which placed fourth, and was eighth with Plomteux in the C2 500 metres.

Evie McDonald of Rideau was sixth with Hodgson-Pageau, Ava Carew and Geneva Bond in the junior women’s C4 500 metres, and also was sixth with Crew in the C2 200 metres.

Besharah’s results sheet also included a fifth in the junior women’s K1 500 metres, and a ninth in the junior women’s K4 500 metres with Charlotte Brais, Cassidy McPherson and Kristiane Free.

Hodgson-Pageau and Crew also were seventh in the junior women’s C2 500-metre final.


Meanwhile, Royal Ottawa Golf Club’s James Newton put himself in a good position for a berth on Golf Canada’s 2022 national junior team, placing fourth in the 54-hole tournament at the national association’s junior selection camp.

Playing on TPC Toronto’s Osprey Valley north course in Caledon, ON., the Ontario boys’ junior champion shot even-par 70-72-74-216. In his opening round, he was five-under-par after 13 holes, but finished with three bogeys.

In the girls’ junior division, Isabella Ferguson of the Ottawa Hunt was 15th at 80-79-73 for a plus-16 232, while Ashley Lafontaine of Royal Ottawa tied for 19th at 80-80-78 for a plus-22 238.


Stittsville’s Erica Wiebe, who lost her opening bout at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, won the women’s 76-kilogram class at the Canadian U23 and senior world team wrestling trials in Saskatoon, beating Taylor Follensbee of Saskatoon 10-0 in her only match.

In the women’s U23 division, Jessica Hong of the National Capital Wrestling Club fell 10-0 to Taylor McPherson of Edmonton in the 53-kilogram class.


Penn State University defeated University of Wisconsin 16-10 in NCAA football as safety Jonathan Sutherland and linebacker Jesse Luketa, both of Ottawa, had seven (six solo) and five (four solo) tackles respectively in a winning cause.

Defensive lineman Akheem Mesidor of Ottawa was active in West Virginia University Mountaineers’ 30-24 loss to University of Maryland, making five solo and four assisted tackles. He made the ESPN True Freshman All American first team in 2020.


Manotick Curling Club product Jamie Sinclair reached the quarter-final round of the Oakville Labour Day Classic, but lost 5-4 to undefeated Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, MB. Sinclair was 2-2 in preliminary games for eighth place.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 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 High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at

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

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