By Martin Cleary
The 155th edition of Canada Day is on the horizon and Canadians can reflect and rejoice about living in one of the world’s greatest countries.
Three major groups of national-level athletes gathered across the country on the weekend in Langley, B.C., Edmonton and Montreal to get the party started at the respective Canadian track and field championships, the Canadian road cycling championships and the second Canadian sprint canoe/kayak national team trials.
Whether powered by their snug, spiked shoes, finely crafted paddles or sleek, eye-catching tires, Ottawa and area athletes excelled in all three competitions, either winning medals, setting records or putting themselves in a position to be named to Team Canada for major international championships.
Here’s the breakdown as to how the region’s best athletes performed at the right moment.
OTTAWA LIONS WIN 17 MEDALS AT TRACK AND FIELD NATIONALS
Relay races don’t get a lot of respect.
But the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club put a new spin on that to wrap up the five-day Canadian track and field championships by winning a medal in seven of the nine baton-passing races.
And they did it with style and flair.
Sitting in third place entering the final 100 metres of the women’s U20 4×100-metre relay, Emily Brennan passed the baton to Bianca Borgella, a class T13 visually impaired sprinter who is a relative newcomer to track.
(Classy move by the Lions to have able-bodied runners work hand-in-hand with an athlete with a disability, who was deservedly given the honour of being the anchor runner.)
When Borgella, who had earlier sparked the Lions with two individual para gold medals in national-record times, took the baton, she quickly bolted into the lead and crossed the finish in a gold-medal winning 48.25 seconds. The Lions team, which was completed by Emma Martins and Kathryn Manor, won by 1.22 seconds.
Earlier at the national championships, Borgella placed first in the para ambulatory 400 metres in 1:02.19 and the 100 metres in 12.43. Her winning times also lowered her two Canadian para records.
Doyon Ogunremi, Sydney Smith, Alexandra Tetford and Lauren Gale combined to win the women’s senior 4×400-metre relay in a Canadian club record of 3:35.46.
Gale also was involved in two women’s senior sprint finals. Despite stumbling out of the starting blocks, she was second over 400 metres in 51.61, which was her third-fastest time ever, and fourth over 200 metres in 23.08.
Gale, who served as an alternate for the Canadian women’s 4×400-metre relay team at the Tokyo Olympics, is expected to represent Canada at the world athletics championships beginning July 15 in Eugene, Oregon in both individual and relay competition. The 22-year-old has also been named to Team Canada for the July 28-Aug. 8 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.
Two other local athletes could be in line to represent Canada in relay competitions at the world championships.
Ottawa-raised Jacqueline Madogo, who represents Guelph, ON’s Royal City Athletics Club, placed fourth in the women’s senior 100 metres (11.49).
C.A.N.I. Athletics’ Eliezer Adjibi broke through for fourth place in the men’s senior 100 metres, clocked a hair behind the bronze medallist who also finished with an identical time of 10.35 seconds. Should the 21-year-old be named to Canada’s world championships lineup, he would most likely be an alternate for the relay team since Olympic champion Andre De Grasse missed the nationals with COVID-19.
The Lions also won silver medals in the women’s senior 4×100-metre relay (51.60) and the men’s U20 4×100-metre relay (43.78) as well as bronze medals in the women’s U20 4×400-metre relay (4:07.98), the men’s senior 4×400-metre relay (3:12.92) and the men’s U20 4×400-metre relay (3:24.85).
Josh Cassidy was the Lions’ other double medallist, winning silver in the men’s para wheelchair 800 metres in 1:42.31 and bronze in the 1,500 metres in 3:26.62.
Running personal-best times, the Lions’ Elizabeth Vroom remained undefeated in the women’s steeplechase this season by winning the women’s U20 race over 3,000 metres in 10:40.33, while teammate Louise Stonham was second, when she dipped under 11 minutes for the first time in 10:58.66.
Lions’ Audrey Goddard had a successful debut in the women’s U20 heptathlon as she finished in a tie for second place at 4,480 points with Robin Selkirk of the London Western Track and Field Club. Goddard won the opening 100-metre hurdles in 14.70, which was a national women’s U20 heptathlon hurdles record.
She also placed second in the 200 metres (26.08), third in the competition-closing 800 metres (2:34.05), fourth in the high jump (1.54 metres), shot put (8.50 metres) and javelin (27.24 metres). She was fifth in the long jump at 5.30 metres.
Thomas Nedow’s second-best lifetime throw with the two-kilogram discus gave him the men’s senior silver medal. He also was fifth in the shot put for the Lions with a seasonal-best 16.63 metres.
Luca Nicoletti of the Lions ran a personal-best 53.94 for the bronze medal in the men’s U20 400-metre hurdles.
Former Beckwith Athletics Club thrower Spencer Lewis of Carleton Place jumped into first place from third with a sixth- and final-round discus throw of 51.97 metres to secure the men’s U18 gold medal. He also earned gold in the shot put at 18.79 metres.
Thomas Becker of C.A.N.I. Athletics had a relatively error-free competition as he won the men’s U20 high jump at 2.06 metres. Clubmate Bryson Patterson tied for third place in the men’s senior long jump at 7.19 metres.
Pembroke’s Madeleine Kelly, who was representing the Royal City Athletics Club of Guelph, captured the women’s senior 800 metres in 2:00.82.
Barbara Bitchoka, who formerly competed for C.A.N.I. Athletics and is now unattached, placed second in the women’s senior high jump at 1.80 metres, which was the same height as winner Marguerite Lorenzo of Saint-Laurent Select.
Ottawa’s Ivy Bialowas of the Saint John’s Reds Track and Field Club was second in the women’s U20 5,000 metres at 18:21.56. Rudy Saal of the Petawawa-based Les Coureurs de Bois was second in the men’s U20 3,000 metres in 8:33.48, and fourth over 5,000 metres in 15:04.17.
NGAIRE BARRACLOUGH EARNS SECOND U23 CYCLING MEDAL
Ngaire Barraclough of the Ottawa-based Cyclery Racing team won her second women’s U23 medal Sunday at the Canadian road cycling championships in Edmonton.
Two days after winning the U23 individual time trial and placing fifth overall in the women’s elite field, Barraclough was third among U23 riders in the eight-lap, 116-kilometre road race.
Barraclough finished fifth overall in the women’s elite road race in three hours, 11 minutes, 56 seconds, which was the same time as winner Maggie Coles-Lyster of DNA Pro Cycling. The sprint finish saw nine riders finish with the same time.
Racing as an independent, Ottawa’s Ivanie Blondin placed ninth overall in the road race. The 2022 double Olympic medallist in long-track speed skating was 26th at the mid-point of the race. Triple Olympic medallist Isabelle Weidemann of Ottawa was entered in the road race, but didn’t compete.
Ottawa’s Matteo Dal-Cin finished ninth in the men’s 12-lap, 160.6-kilometre road race in 3:59:57, while Derek Gee of Osgoode placed 41st. Gee won the men’s senior individual time trial on Thursday and Dal-Cin was second.
Team Ontario’s Joey Desjardins of Hawkesbury, ON., won the men’s hand-cycling class 3-5 road race over 43.2 kilometres in 1:18:16. He earlier was third in the individual time trial.
RIDEAU CANOE CLUB SHOWS WELL AT NATIONAL TEAM TRIALS
National Capital Region paddlers built a strong case to represent Canada at upcoming major international championships during the second national canoe/kayak selection team trials at the Olympic basin in Montreal.
The four-day trials will be used to determine Canada’s teams for the world sprint championships Aug. 3-7 in Dartmouth, N.S., the world junior and U23 championships Aug. 31 to Sept. 4 in Szeged, Hungary, and the Olympic Hopes international regatta Sept. 8-11 in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Rideau Canoe Club paddlers were frequent visitors to the medal podium and men’s U18 canoeist Peter Bradley led the procession.
Bradley capped a four-medal performance with his third win on Monday, when he captured the open senior men’s 5,000-metre race in 25 minutes, 31.001 seconds. He won the race by 97 seconds. His other victories were in the C1 500- and 1,000-metre races in 1:53.950 and 4:06.262 respectively. Bradley and Emile Bouvier were third in the C2 500 metres.
Rideau teammate Matthew O’Neill was third in the senior men’s 5,000 metres in 27:24.004, which was his only individual medal. He also earned double gold in a pair of C4 500-metre races with Andrew Billard, Tyler Laidlaw and Alix Plomteux, who represented other clubs.
O’Neill also was third in the senior men’s C2 500 metres with Rideau’s Ydris Hunter, the third-place finisher in the C1 200 metres.
Olympian Madeline Schmidt completed with a full set of results from first to fourth, when she won the senior women’s K1 5,000 metres in 24:52.005. She defeated runner-up Michelle Russell of Cheema Aquatics Club by 10.998 seconds.
Schmidt also was second in the K1 1,000 race, after starting with a third- and a fourth-place result in the K1 500 metres.
Cascades Canoe Club’s Sophia Jensen won the women’s senior C1 200 metres, but placed second to Katie Vincent of the Mississauga Canoe Club in the C1 500-metre race.
Rideau’s Maren Bradley and Evie McDonald were third in the women’s senior K1 1,000 metres and C1 200 metres respectively.
Schmidt, Jensen, Bradley, McDonald, Toshka Besharah-Hrebacka and Natalie Davison also were involved in a series of crew boat races.
Rideau also showed its strength in the women’s U18 canoe races.
Zoe Wojtyk, Janina Winnicki and Ruby Muhl finished one-two-three respectively in the C1 500-metre final. Wojtyk won the race by more than three seconds.
But the C1 200-metre final was a dramatic photo finish as Rideau canoeists placed second through sixth – Muhl, second, 49.679; Wojtyk, third, 49.694; Winnicki, fourth, 49.872; Mila Souilliere, fifth, 50.412; and Julia Price, sixth, 50.547.
Racing over 200 metres, Brianna Hennessy of the Ottawa River Canoe Club had a first- and a second-place result in her VAA canoe races and a pair of thirds in her kayak tests.
Rideau para kayaker Gabriel Ferron-Bouius won his two races over 200 metres.
VANESSA GILLES AND TEAM CANADA SETTLE FOR SCORELESS TIE IN WOMEN’S SOCCER FRIENDLY
Vanessa Gilles’ shot was blocked in the final moment of Team Canada’s match with South Korea in Toronto, depriving the home side of a win in a 0-0 friendly on Sunday.
The Ottawa defender’s shot was the third Canadian attempt on goal off a corner kick in added time, but Canada had to settle for the draw despite dominating possession in the contest.
The Tokyo Olympic champion had come close to scoring earlier in the second half as well.
The match served as a tune-up for the July 4-18 Concacaf W Championship in Mexico, which acts as a qualifier for both the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Also on Sunday, at the Concacaf U20 men’s championship in Honduras, Canada was eliminated in its first playoff contest, falling 4-3 in penalty kicks to Guatemala after a 1-1 regulation/extra time round of 16 match.
Ottawa defender Noah Abatneh made his lone appearance in Canada’s opening 1-0 defeat to Cuba and picked up a yellow card, before watching his side tie USA 2-2 and beat St. Kitts and Nevis 4-0.
WATER POLO GOALIE TO PLAY FOR 9TH PLACE AT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Ottawa’s Jessica Gaudreault and the Canadian women’s water polo team exited in the first round of the playoffs at the FINA World Aquatics Championships with a 10-7 defeat to the Netherlands Sunday in Hungary.
Earlier in the preliminary round, Gaudreault played almost all of Canada’s 7-7 tie with Italy, a half in a 22-2 drubbing of Columbia, and all of an 11-7 defeat to the host Hungarians.
Gaudreault had been Canada’s starting goalkeeper on the road to Tokyo but ended up being chosen as an alternate at the Olympics. The 27-year-old has played the bulk of the minutes in the Canadian goal at the worlds, though just a third of the match in the playoff elimination contest.
Canada will now play in the classification round for 9th to 12th 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 OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.
HELP SHINE A LIGHT ON LOCAL SPORT! The Ottawa Sports Pages has proudly provided a voice for local sport for over 10 years, but we need your help to continue another 10 and beyond. Please donate to the Ottawa Sports Pages Fund today.