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HIGH ACHIEVERS: Sophia Jensen misses medal by split second in world senior canoe championship debut

By Martin Cleary

WEEKEND WRAP: Science tells us a blink of an eye happens in one-third of a second.

That will help you understand how close eight-time world junior and U23 champion Sophia Jensen of Chelsea, Que., came to winning a medal in her first world senior canoe championship last week in Copenhagen, Denmark.

After Jensen and Anna Roy-Cyr of Lac Beauport, Que., won their women’s C2 200-metre heat by half a second and automatically qualified for the A final, the first-year tandem missed the bronze medal by 0.19 seconds. And they placed eighth.

Patricia Coco and Maria Corbera of Spain survived a photo finish to win the gold medal in 43.88 seconds, while Cuba’s Varisleidis Duboys and Katherin Segura settled for second in 43.89. The next six C2 boats had a dizzying finish, leaving the photo finish judges working overtime.

The time difference between third and eighth place was a paper-thin 0.19 seconds. Hungary’s Glada Bragato and Bianka Nagy claimed third at 44.37, while Jensen, who races for Cascades, and Roy-Cyr finished eighth in 44.56.

“Sophia and Anna had the best start in the field and held the lead through the first half of the race,” wrote Jensen’s father Olaf, who followed his daughter’s races online.

“The finish was an incredibly tight blanket finish and most of the crews were left floating around the finish line in anxious confusion, while they waited for the results to be announced. Cuba seemed to think they won the gold for a few moments and Canada was briefly announced as the bronze medal crew.”

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Olaf added Sophia was disappointed she missed the medal podium in her final race of the short 2021 season.

“However, it’s great to see such depth in women’s canoe and, of course, it’s great to see Sophia and Anna among the best in the world,” Olaf wrote in his daily email report during the worlds.

On Saturday, the day before their 200-metre final, Jensen and Roy-Cyr had two reasons for celebration. They have identical birthdays (Sept. 18), but Jensen turned 20 and Roy-Cyr 23. That put a smile on their faces as they entered their first world senior final, the women’s C2 500 metres.

After finishing with the bronze medal in the same event at the world U23 championships two weeks earlier, Jensen and Roy-Cyr placed sixth in the world senior final in 1:58.92, which left them 3.07 seconds behind champions Liudmyla Luzan and Anastasila Chetverikova of Ukraine.

Jensen and Roy-Cyr, who were second in their heat to advance directly to the 500-metre final, are left-handed canoeists and the wind on that windy, cool morning was blowing in favour of right-sided paddlers.

“They powered off the line with a great start and held a great position through the middle part of the race,” Olaf wrote. “As the waves picked up in the last third of the course, Sophia (said) it was challenging to maintain control of the boat, which meant less power for forward motion. All in all, Sophia (said) she is happy with the race overall, given the conditions.”

Rideau Canoe Club’s Natalie Davison placed seventh in both her women’s K1 200-metre heat and semifinal, and later joined Mitchell Barran in the K2 mixed 200 metres, surviving the heat and semifinals and finishing eighth in the final.

Tokyo Olympian Madeline Schmidt, also of Rideau, was sixth in her women’s K1 1,000-metre heat and ninth in the semifinal. But Courtney Stott, Michelle Russell, Alanna Lougheed and Schmidt finished fourth in the K4 500-metre semifinal and missed the final by two one-hundreths of a second. Schmidt also was 11th in the K1 5,000-metre race.

Rideau’s Gabriel Bouius competed in the men’s para KL3 200 metres, placing seventh in his heat and semifinal before advancing to the B final, where he was eighth.


Stittsville’s Erica Wiebe has declined the opportunity to attend the upcoming world wrestling championships in Oslo. Wiebe, who lost her first and only match at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, qualified as Canada’s representative in the women’s 76-kilogram class earlier this month at the Canadian world team trials in Saskatoon.

“I did compete in the trials and earned my selection onto the team, however I made the decision not to attend for personal and professional reasons,” Wiebe, the 2016 Olympic 75-kilogram gold medallist, told High Achievers in an email.

Wiebe, who already has two university degrees, is an executive MBA Americas student in the Queen’s University Smith School of Business. The Smith School is the exclusive business education partner of the Canadian Olympic Committee and a founding partner of Game Plan, which is the total athlete wellness program for Canadian high-performance athletes.


Ottawa’s Lisa Weagle and John Epping of Toronto have qualified for the 2022 Canadian Olympic mixed doubles curling trials Jan. 3-9 in Portage la Prairie, MB.

They advanced to the Olympic trials by being the top Canadian tandem at the 36-team Aly Jenkins Mixed Doubles Memorial in Martensville, SK.

After placing second in their pool at 4-1, Weagle, who curls for Jennifer Jones in women’s team curling, and Epping defeated Aileen Geving and Luc Violett of Duluth, Minnesota, 6-5 in the quarterfinals, and Jennifer Armstrong and Catlin Schneider of White City, SK., 9-6 in the semifinals.

By winning their semifinal, they emerged as the top Canadian pair, since they met Isabella Wrana and Rasmus Wrana of Stockholm, Sweden, in the final. Weagle and Epping conceded the championship game after three ends with the Swedes leading 8-1.


While the FIS roller ski world championships were being held in Val di Fiemme, Italy, local and regional cross-country pavement skiers competed in the Skinouk Cup in Gatineau Park.

Ricardo Izquierdo-Bernier of Fondeurs-Laurentides was the fastest in both five-kilometre legs to win the men’s 10-kilometre race in 24:15.6. Aidan Kirkham of Nakkertok Nordic was 11 seconds behind in second place at 24:26.6.

Nakkertok Nordic’s Katherine Mason and Carleton University’s Maggie McClure were one-two respectively in the women’s 10-kilometre test in 30:20.7 and 33:49.6.


Maverick Volleyball has placed three boys and two girls on the Team Ontario Elite squads for 2021-22. Leo Dufour, Miguel Dumetz, Cole Francis, Pascale Galarneau and Christine Hachokake have demonstrated they have the skills to compete on a youth or national team within one to two years. Ottawa Fusion’s Nathan Peters also has been selected to the provincial boys’ elite team.

The boys’ and girls’ teams will have two training camps this year before 12 to 14 players are selected for a week-long March Break training camp in 2022.

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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