HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
WEEKEND WRAP: The concept of co-ed sports at the elite level has been around for many years – mixed doubles in tennis and table tennis, for example – but it has been treated in a rather subdued and/or dismissive manner.
However, at the last two Olympic Games in Beijing and Tokyo, there has been a great growth in the idea of male and female athletes training, working and competing together for their country.
At the recent Winter Games in Beijing, Canada won a bronze medal in the ski jumping mixed team event and there were good receptions for the mixed team relay in short-track speed skating and mixed team events in alpine and freestyle skiing. As for the 2021 Summer Games, triathlon presented a mixed relay race, and mixed team competitions were added for shooting and archery.
National Capital Region athletes are getting a taste of this relatively new international trend and they showed this past weekend they can be successful at it.
Sophia Jensen, 20, of Cascades Canoe Club and Chelsea, Que., and Alix Plomteux of Lac Beauport, Que., won the bronze medal in mixed C2 500 metres during the opening stage of the World Cup sprint racing season in Racice, Czechia.
Meanwhile, several time zones to their east, Ottawa’s Eric Peters experienced his best-ever World Cup meet in archery, when he and partner/Tokyo Olympian Stephanie Barrett of Mississauga qualified for the bronze-medal match in the mixed doubles recurve class in Gwangju, Korea. They settled for fourth place in a tight loss to The Netherlands.
Jensen, an eight-time champion and 12-time medallist at the world junior championships, and Plomteux placed second in their mixed C2 qualifying heat and finished the final less than a second out of second place.
Sun Mengya and Liu Hao of China posted a convincing win in the final in one minute, 45.42 seconds, while Ukraine’s Anastasia Chetverikova and Andril Rybachok were second in 1:48.29, while Jensen and Plomteux, the U23 world champions in 2021, took third in 1:48.91.
“We were very proud of our performance and the result obtained in the final,” Jensen told Sportcom. “The mixed races are always very tough and it’s nice to be able to participate in them with Alix.
“We started doing this event at the last U23 worlds and we work really well together. We have fun and it allows us to learn from our other events.”
Jensen had her second of three Racice World Cup finals only a few hours before the mixed C2 medal race and posted a sixth-place showing in the women’s C1 200-metre test. She was timed in 46.12 and was 1.03 seconds behind winner Yarisleidis Duboys of Cuba.
“I’m very proud of my race and I’m happy with the way everything went,” she added. “I’m in my first full year as a senior and I’ve already learned a lot this weekend.”
In her other final, Jensen and long-time paddle partner Julia Lilley-Osende of Dartmouth, N.S., placed fifth in the women’s C2 500 metres.
“I consider it a good start to the season for me. I’m always looking to improve and push ever more, but I’m happy with my races and that motivates me for the future,” Jensen said.
Natalie Davison-James and Toshka Besharah of the Rideau Canoe Club combined to qualify for three A finals in Racice.
Andreanne Langlois of Quebec City, Davison-James, Riley Melanson of Waverley, N.S., and Besharah were eighth in the women’s K4 500 metres. Racing in lane one, Beshsarah and Langlois finished seventh in the K2 500 metres. Davison-James and Brian Malfesi were eighth in the K2 mixed 500 metres. Davison-James raced the women’s K1 1,000-metre B final and placed 12th overall.
At the World Cup stage 2 archery meet in Gwangju, Peters and Barnett placed 11th in the mixed doubles recurve qualifying standings based on their combined opening-round scores for the men’s and women’s individual competitions.
The left-handed shooting Peters and Barnett, who shoots from the right side, received a bye through the first round, but then posted a pair of impressive upsets that required tiebreakers. They defeated No. 6 Italy 5-4 in round two and No. 3 Chinese Taipei 5-4 in the quarterfinals.
Germany swept the semi-final 6-0 over Canada, but the first two sets were decided by one point each and the deciding third set showed a two-point difference.
In the bronze-medal match, Canada took the first set 38-35, but The Netherlands’ team of Rick Van Der Ven and Gaby Schloesser rebounded to win the second set by the same score. The third set was deadlocked at 35-35, and The Netherlands claimed the medal with a 39-38 decision in the fourth set. Each archer shot two arrows apiece in each set.
Peters, 24, tied for ninth place in the individual men’s recurve competition. He scored a season-best 657 points in the qualifying round and placed 23rd overall out of 77 starters.
He defeated No. 42 Efegurkan Maras of Turkey 6-4 in the first round and No. 10 Alessandro Paoli of Italy 6-0 in the second round. But he missed his opportunity to advance to the quarterfinals, when he lost 6-2 to No. 39 Jayanta Talukdar of India.
Peters is now ranked 21st in the World Cup point standings and No. 53 in the world rankings, an improvement of 13 places. His career-best world ranking was No. 24 in June, 2021.
OLIVIA DE COUVREUR CLOSE TO PODIUM AS WELL WITH CANADA AT RUGBY SEVENS WORLD SERIES
A late score by Ireland kept Ottawa’s Olivia De Couvreur and the Canadian women’s rugby sevens team from reaching their first semi-final of the season on the World Rugby Sevens Series.
De Couvreur scored a try in Canada’s quarter-final contest with Ireland, but the 22-21 defeat left them to battle for fifth through eighth place at the May 20-22 tournament in France.
In the preliminary round, Canada beat Spain 26-12 and Scotland 14-7, and lost 17-0 to eventual event champ New Zealand.
De Couvreur scored her second try of the weekend in a 19-7 Canadian victory over USA before falling 19-14 to France to take sixth place in the final women’s Series event of the season.
Fellow Ottawa Irish club product Pamphinette Buisa also played for Team Canada in most events this season, including its best performance (fifth-place) in Langford, B.C.
The Canadians finished seventh overall in the season’s standings. They’ll play in the Rugby Sevens World Cup later this year, Sept. 9-11 in South Africa.
OTTAWA JR. SENATORS NEED WIN IN FINAL POOL GAME
The Ottawa Jr. Senators must win their final round-robin game Wednesday, if they hope to make the single-elimination playoff round at the Centennial Cup national junior A hockey championship in Estevan, Saskatchewan.
The Central Junior Hockey League champion will conclude its pool play by meeting Summerside Western Capitals (2-1) on Wednesday afternoon, after posting a 2-1 loss to Dauphin Kings, earning its first point in a 3-2 overtime defeat by Flin Flon Bombers and recording its first three-point win in a 4-0 decision over Soo Thunderbirds.
Forward Massimo Gentile, who placed 88th in the CCHL regular-season scoring race (13 goals, 12 assists in 53 games), leads the Senators’ offence with two goals and two assists. Simon Isabelle, the league’s sixth-best scorer at 22-45-67, has two goals and one assist.
The Senators are the second lowest scoring team in the 10-team Canadian championship at 2.33 goals a game, but have the second-best goals against average from goalkeeper William Desmarais at 1.68 and a save percentage of 0.922.
This is the third consecutive year the Senators have reached the national championship. They made the semifinals in 2019 and 2018, but had one-goal losses in the semifinals to Brooks and Chilliwack respectively. The nationals were cancelled the last two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Senators won 12 of 13 playoff games over three rounds this season for their eighth career league title.
In the 2022 CCHL playoffs, Senators forwards Julian Recine and Isabelle were the top two scorers respectively at 19 (7-12) points and 17 (10-7) points. Philippe Jacques was sixth at 5-9-14, Bodie Nobes placed seventh at 3-11-14 and Gentile was 20th at 4-4-8.
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 “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 email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.
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