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HIGH ACHIEVERS WEEKEND WARM-UP: NBA’s Brooklyn Nets sign undrafted Noah Kirkwood


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

By Martin Cleary

The Ottawa sports community is under multiple spotlights these days as one of its athletes has signed with an NBA team, cyclists and track and field athletes are winning medals at their respective Canadian championships and the world’s best men’s curlers will finally make it to Ottawa. Here are their stories:

Noah Kirkwood has become the second Ottawa basketball player to connect with an NBA team.

Despite not being selected as one of the 58 eligible players in the two-round NBA Draft on Thursday night, the Brooklyn Nets stepped forward after the major TV event to sign three guards, including Kirkwood. The Nets did not have a pick in either round of the draft.

Kirkwood, a 6-7 shooting guard and sociology major at Harvard University, follows in the footsteps of former St. Patrick’s High School student/athlete Marial Shayok, who was selected in the second round and 54th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers.

Kirkwood, a three-year starter for the Crimson at Harvard, declared himself eligible for the draft earlier this year so he could pursue a professional basketball career. He had one year of athletic eligibility remaining at Harvard, but sacrificed that by entering the draft.

The Ashbury College grad (2013-17) will play for the Nets during the NBA Summer League season, which begins July 8 in Las Vegas. He’ll be joined by Wake Forest’s Alondes Williams and Donovan Williams of the University of Nevada Las Vegas, who also were signed as undrafted free-agents, as well as the club’s five 2021 NBA draft picks to play in the summer league.

Alondes Williams agreed to a two-way contract with the Nets and the club’s G-League affiliate, the Long Island Nets, while Donovan Williams and Kirkwood will be on the Nets’ summer league roster.


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The Nets signed a trio of guards as future prospects, since the club is having difficulty re-signing star guard Kyrie Irving.

Kirkwood is considered a mature and polished ball handler. He understands the game well and has a professional approach, when he’s on the court.

In his three years at Harvard (the 2020-21 campaign was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic), Kirkwood was a two-time first team Ivy League all-star and was the league’s rookie of the year in his 2018-19 season. He also was named a National Association of Basketball Coaches District 13 first-team all-star in 2021-22.

During his senior and final year at Harvard, Kirkwood averaged 17.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.8 steals a game. He was a strong shooter with a 47.7 per cent average from the field and 35.3 per cent beyond the three-point arc.

He posted a career-high 31 points and eight rebounds in a game this season against Cornell University.

OTTAWA CYCLISTS GO 1-2 IN MEN’S ELITE TIME TRIAL

Israel Cycling Academy’s Derek Gee of Osgoode and Toronto Hustle’s Matteo Dal-Cin of Ottawa recorded a one-two finish in the men’s elite individual time trial during the Canadian cycling road racing championships in Beaumont, AB., which is located on the outskirts of Edmonton.

Battling wind, rain and cold temperatures in the gruelling 48-kilometre race, Gee completed his three laps in 58 minutes, 18.9 seconds, while Dal-Cin, who won the 2017 national road race in Ottawa, finished in 59:10.4.

“It’s kind of nice, when it’s raining that hard and it’s that cold, you feel the legs a little less,” Gee said about the muscle-burning distance sprint. “I got COVID about two months ago and it has been a long road back.

“The power I put out today, I was failing 10 minutes at that two weeks ago so it’s really nice to see that it has come back and it came together today. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. It’s really special to be able to wear the jersey after Hugo (Houle), who I’ll be teammates with next year.”

Ngaire Barraclough of the Ottawa-based Cyclery Racing team placed third overall in the elite women’s and U23 individual time trial and won the national U23 championship. She was timed in 45:24.8. Professional triathlete Paula Findlay of Edmonton was the overall women’s winner in 44:40.4.

Caileigh Filmer of Cyclery placed sixth overall in 45:39.5.

Team Ontario’s Joey Desjardins, a 2022 Paralympic athlete from Hawkesbury, was third in the para men’s hand cycling individual time trial in 30:09.8.

MICHAEL WOODS READY FOR TOUR DE FRANCE

The Tour de France cycling race begins Friday, July 1 in Denmark and the Israel – Premier Tech team has designated Ottawa’s Michael Woods as its premier rider.

One of 20 teams in the prestigious Grand Tour event, which ends July 24, Israel – Premier Tech general manager Kjell Carlstrom said the team’s primary goal is to win a stage. But Woods could also deliver in other ways.

“We also want to keep our options open and see what may be possible in terms of fighting for a leader’s jersey like we did last year, when we had Michael Woods fighting for the KOM (King of the Mountain, climbing) jersey,” Carlstrom said in a statement.

“However, hunting for stages is definitely the most important goal for us in this year’s Tour de France.”

In the wake of winning a stage and his first-ever overall stage-race title in Route d’Occitanie last weekend, Woods is ready for his third Tour de France.

“I’m really excited to get started with this year’s Tour de France. After Route d’Occitanie, I’m feeling really confident for the race. The first week is going to be very demanding, very stressful and very technical.

“My first goal is just not to crash in this opening week. I’ve come close to winning stages the last two times I’ve done the Tour, but I feel that I’ve always been hampered by injuries from crashes. This time around, the goal is just to stay safe and then have the legs ready to go in the final two weeks.

“There are quite a few stages there, which are suited to me, and I hope to take advantage of as many of them as possible.”

ISABELLE WEIDEMANN NAMED TOP FEMALE LONG-TRACK SKATER

Isabelle Weidemann, who entered the Canadian cycling championship women’s elite individual time trial but did not start Thursday’s race, was one of seven award winners at Speed Skating Canada’s inaugural Olympic Celebration Gala.

The celebration of Canada’s oval Olympians at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games was held during Speed Skating Canada’s annual general meeting and congress in Quebec City.

Weidemann was named the association’s female long-track athlete of the year, after she became only the second Canadian to collect a full set of medals during a single Games.

In her second Olympics, Weidemann opened her schedule with a bronze medal in the 3,000 metres and followed with a silver over 5,000 metres and capped it with a gold in the team pursuit along with Ottawa’s Ivanie Blondin and Valérie Maltais.

At the end of the Games, Weidemann, 26, was rewarded by the Canadian Olympic Committee with the honour of carrying the Canadian flag in the closing ceremony. During her World Cup season, she helped Canada earn six medals and an overall first-place finish in team pursuit.

Weidemann also won the Catriona Le May Doan Award as Speed Skating Canada’s top female long-track speed skater in 2019.

2023 WORLD MEN’S CURLING CHAMPIONSHIP HEADING TO OTTAWA

After a two-year delay, the world men’s curling championship will be staged inside the TD Place Arena from April 1-9, 2023.

Ottawa was originally scheduled to play host to the worlds in 2021, but the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the championship to a safe, fan-free bubble environment in Calgary.

“We are looking forward to having the world men’s curling championship 2023 in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa,” said World Curling Federation president Kate Caithness in a statement.

Curling Canada stages the world men’s championship in odd-numbered years under an agreement with the world federation.

“Ottawa made it crystal clear to us that while they understood the decision that had to be made for the 2021 championship, they wanted this world men’s championship in their city as quickly as possible,” Curling Canada CEO Katherine Henderson said.

Ottawa has been a successful venue for staging major domestic curling championships. The Tim Hortons Brier (national men’s championship) was held on TD Place Arena ice in 2016, 2001, 1993 and 1979. The 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Olympic curling trials also were played in Ottawa.

When the worlds are held in Ottawa, it will be the 26th time the championship will be staged in Canada. The world championship has been won 35 times by a Canadian rink, since it started in 1959.

“It was such a disappointment when we couldn’t play host in 2021, but we went right back to work to prepare for today’s announcement,” Ottawa host committee vice-chair Elaine Brimicombe said in a press release.

“There is an amazing group of volunteers in the Ottawa Valley, who are excited to roll up their sleeves for the next 10 months so that we can pull off the best world men’s curling championship ever.”

OTTAWA LIONS WIN GOLD, SILVER MEDALS AT NATIONALS

The Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club has won its first two medals at the four-day Canadian track and field championships in Langley, B.C.

Bianca Borgella, a Canadian record holder in the women’s T13 class over 100 and 200 metres, captured the women’s 400-metre para ambulatory race in 1:02.19.

On Thursday night, defending champion Josh Cassidy earned the silver medal in the men’s wheelchair para 800 metres in 1:42.31.

After six of seven events in the women’s U20 heptathlon, Lions’ Audrey Goddard was in second place with 3,837 points. Competing in her first heptathlon, Goddard placed first in the 100-metre hurdles and long jump, second in the 200 metres and fourth in the high jump, shot put and javelin. The 800 metres, the final event of the two-day multiple-event competition, was scheduled for late Friday night.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 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 martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.


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