HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
The weather was hot, but even the blistering 37°C heat and humidity couldn’t defeat two-time champion Ellie McGregor of Ottawa during the four-day Ontario Summer Games in Mississauga.
Competing for McGregor Training, Ellie, 13, shortened her pre-race warmup to conserve energy and ran personal-best times to win the girls’ U14 300 metres and 800 metres in the athletics portion of the Games, which were staged at York University.
She also ran the open 400-metre leg of the U14 sprint medley relay. Her team held the lead throughout until late in the final 800-metre leg before Ellie and her teammates finished with the bronze medal.
The Games featured more than 3,500 up-and-coming athletes, who competed in 17 sports and nine para sports. Ottawa athletes won medals in a minimum of six sports and one para sport.
McGregor Training is owned and operated by Stuart McGregor, who is not only Ellie’s father, but also a former 12-time national track and field team member, a triple Paralympic Summer Games medallist (1996, 2000 and 2004) as a visually-impaired middle-distance runner, a Boston Marathon medallist and a school teacher.
Ellie pared a full second from her best-ever time for the 300 metres, when she battled back and forth with Emilie Gervais to win in 41.61 seconds. Gervais was second in 41.98.
In her first 800-metre race in several years, Ellie clocked a winning time of 2:22.35 for the victory and beat her previous best clocking of 2:28. She stayed with the lead pack for the first 500 metres before making her final kick over the last 300 metres.
“I had a shorter warmup and I tried to stay cool in the shade,” said Ellie, who reduced her pre-race exercise program to 35 from 50 minutes.
Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club’s Zach Jeggo was a double medallist in the boys’ U16 category, winning the 200-metre hurdles in 26.34 and placing third in the 300 metres in a personal-best 37.57. Clubmate Quinn Coughlin earned girls’ U16 bronze medals in the 300 metres, 41.98, and the 800 metres, 2:17.92.
The Rideau Canoe Club sent 32 canoe and kayak U16 athletes to Mississauga for the Opening Ceremony and then to Welland, where they captured or shared 11 gold, 12 silver and 12 bronze medals.
Ruby Muhl was unbeatable in her four races, placing first in the C1 500 metres, the C2 500 metres with Sarah Rumscheidt, the C2 1,000 metres with Abby Wojtyk and the C4 500 metres with Wojtyk, Julia Price and Abbie Haines of Carleton Place.
Rumscheidt also had a victory in the C2 500-metre mixed with Cole Norman, second-place results in the C2 1,000 metres with Izzy Lowry of Carleton Place and in the C4 500 metres with Lowry, Caroline Anderson and Naomi Langenbahn.
Price won the C1 200-metre race for her other gold medal and was second with Langenbahn in the C2 500 metres.
Besides his one gold medal, Norman also earned four silvers – in the C1 500 metres, the C2 500 metres with Roenn Hodgins of Carleton Place, the C2 1,000 metres with Nate Provost and the C4 500 metres with Provost, Dyllan Redwood-Wheeler of Carleton Place and Riley Ribero of the Ottawa River Canoe Club.
In kayak, Kate Osborne was first in the K2 1,000 metres with Calle Loch and placed second in two individual races – K1 500 metres and K1 5,000 metres. Loch also was the K1 200-metre champion.
Osborne also teamed with Samuel Galazka to finish third in the Unified K2 200 metres. Galazka, who competed in the Special Olympic category, was third in the K1 200 metres, while Rideau clubmate Fletcher Sloan was second.
Jed Hill was a double champion, winning the K1 200 metres and working with Redwood-Wheeler, Henrik Neuspiel and Benjamin Elder for first place in the K4 500 metres.
Neuspiel’s results sheet also included a K2 500-metre win with Redwood-Wheeler and second-place results in the K1 500 metres and the K1 5,000 metres.
Ben Sheridan of the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club earned individual and team silver medals in the boys’ U19 competition. He shot rounds of 71-71-73 for a one-under-par 215 total. He also was part of the PLAY Junior Golf Tour squad, which was second in the team event.
Camelot’s Isaiah Ibit tied for third in the individual stroke-play competition, 70-79-68-217, and along with sixth-place finisher Graydon Laughlin of the Hunt, 73-76-73-222, were part of the third-place team.
Avery Nordman of the Canadian was second in the girls’ U19 event, shooting 79-87-76 for a 26-over-par total of 242. Lauren Gervais of Carleton Golf and Yacht took eighth at 78-83-89-250 and Jenna Collins of the Hunt was 16th, 81-88-95-264. Nordman, Gervais and Collins tied for second in the team event.
The Eastern Ontario Rugby Union teams proved to be a consistent third in all four divisions. The regional teams finished third after their three round-robin games, lost their semifinals, but won their bronze-medal matches.
EORU defeated the Southwest Region 31-0 in the girls’ U17 bronze game, the Selects U17 for the boys’ third-place medal 12-5, and the Southwest U15 squads in the bronze-medal games for girls, 24-7, and boys, 36-0.
Annabelle Chukwu scored a pair of goals as Ottawa South United defeated Hamilton United Elites SC 2-0 in the girls’ U15 championship game.
OSU qualified for the final by defeating Oakville SC 11-1, Aurora FC 4-0 and Whitby FC 6-0 in the round robin.
Despite winning two of its three boys’ round-robin games, OSU finished in the four-way tie for second place at 2-1, but a zero goal-differential prevented the team from advancing to the semifinals.
After finishing third in its round-robin at 2-1-1, Ottawa lost 1-0 to Halton in the bronze-medal game.
The Capital team stormed through the boys’ U14 round-robin, winning all three games by scoring 268 points and allowing only 97. Capital defeated Tri-County Red 82-45 in the semifinals and qualified for the final against Central East South. The score of Sunday’s final hasn’t been posted on the Games’ website.
Bytown, 3-1, won the silver medal in the Division 1 Mix competition, after losing the final to Nova Scotia 7-3.
MICHAEL WOODS MISSES FINAL TOUR STAGE WITH COVID
For the second straight year, Michael Woods of Ottawa did not earn a final result at the end of the gruelling three-week Tour de France cycling challenge.
Woods, who races for the Israel Premier Tech team, was declared ineligible for the final 115.6-kilometre stage of the Grand Tour event because he returned a positive COVID test. That prevented him from completing the Tour by cycling into Paris and around the Champs Elysees.
In 2021, Woods left the Tour after 18 of the scheduled 21 stages to concentrate on the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games eight days later. At the Olympics, he battled with seven other world-class cyclists in a final sprint for the silver and bronze medals, but placed fifth after riding six hours, six minutes and 33 seconds.
But Woods had company on the sidelines as only three of his eight-member team were able to complete the Tour de France and ride into Paris. Hugo Houle, who scored an emotional win in Stage 16 and dedicated it to his deceased brother, Krists Neilands and Guy Niv were the only Israel Premier Tech finishers.
Woods was forced to watch the final stage along with Stage 12 third-place finisher Chris Froome and Stage 5 winner Simon Clarke, who both dropped out earlier with COVID position results, Jakob Fuglsand (broken rib) and Guillaume Boivin (a non-COVID-related illness).
A total of 39 riders were unable to finish the Tour, including 17 with positive COVID tests.
Woods scored a career-best-matching third-place result to Houle’s win in Stage 16. When Woods exited the Tour, he was 36th in the General Classification and 2:20:50 behind the leader and eventual winner, Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark and the Jumbo-Visma team.
Despite the bitter-sweet competition, Israel Premier Tech officials were happy for the overall results.
“This has been a milestone performance by the entire team,” sports director Zak Dempster said. “We came into this race with a strong and highly capable group and everybody played their part perfectly; not only the riders, but also the staff.”
“We are just getting started and I am looking forward to more glory in the latter part of the season,” team partner Sylvan Adams said.
GLENROY GILBERT’S RELAY CREW BEATS HOST USA FOR WORLD GOLD
Twenty-six years after Glenroy Gilbert ran to Olympic gold in the men’s 4×100-metre relay at the Atlanta 1996 Summer Games, the now-Athletics Canada head coach watched the Canadian relay team of Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney and Andre De Grasse edge the host Americans for World Athletics Championships gold on Saturday night in Eugene, OR.
Bolstered by clean exchanges and strong technical running on top of blazing speed, the Canadians flew to a national record time of 37.48 seconds, just ahead of USA in 37.55.
“A lot of it is fundamentals and chemistry. All of these guys are talented,” Gilbert told CBC Sports. “In my opinion I think they’re a stronger team than what we were (in 1996). They’re not just 100-metre guys, they’re 200-metre guys, too. Their capacity is much higher. We were primarily 100-metre sprinters.
“I’m very proud to work with them and put forth the knowledge I have from over the years. They’ve made it easy.”
Gilbert couldn’t attend the race due to a positive COVID test earlier in the week due to COVID, but was involved in plenty of pre-race strategy, he recounted in a Canadian Press article.
Ottawa Lions Track-and-Field Club athlete Lauren Gale also didn’t make it to the end of the meet. The 22-year-old World Championships rookie wound up in a walking boot with a foot injury following her individual races and couldn’t compete in the women’s 4×400-metre relay.
The Canadian women’s 4×400 team ended up placing fourth in the final to match the squad’s placement at last summer’s Olympics, where Gale served as alternate on a squad that featured Ottawa’s Alicia Brown.
Gale finished 26th overall in the women’s 200 metres and 29th in the 400 metres earlier in the meet.
Ottawa native Jacqueline Madogo, 22, also made her World Championships debut, racing in the women’s 4×100-metre relay event. The Canadians finished fifth in their semi-final heat and 10th overall in a time of 43.09 seconds.
“I loved working with the girls and being together. We have natural chemistry. I felt so welcomed,” highlighted Madogo, who teamed up with veterans Crystal Emmanuel, Khamica Bingham and Leya Buchanan. “I mean, two years ago, I was a soccer player, so I had no idea I’d be here. It’s been a great experience.”
Pembroke’s Madeleine Kelly was another first-time World Championships competitor. She placed sixth in her heat and 33rd overall in the women’s 800 metres, finishing in 2:02.71.
AROUND THE GOLFING GREENS
Royal Ottawa Golf Club’s James Newton, who is heading to Rutgers University in August, Felix Bouchard of Richelieu Valley and Jean-Philippe Parr of Ki-8-Eb will represent Quebec in the Interprovincial team event at the Canadian boys’ junior golf championship Aug. 7-10 in Kamloops, B.C.
Quebec won the 36-hole team event the last time the national championship was staged in 2019.
At the Quebec boys’ junior championships in Rimouski, Max Corcoran of Loch March tied for 15th place, after shooting rounds of 78-79-71-76 for a 16-over-par total of 304.
Yaorui Xu of the Ottawa Hunt shared 23rd place overall, but was 11th as a juvenile with scores of 73-82-75-77-307. Samuel Deneault of the Royal Ottawa was 27th at 80-76-76-78-310.
Ottawa Hunt’s Peter Harrison was the runaway winner of the Ottawa Valley Golf Association men’s senior championship, firing a 69 at Carleton and a 71 at Loch March for a three-under 140.
Ricky Coulombe of the Gatineau club was second at 72-78-150, while Greg Clarke of the Hunt took third at 74-77-151.
Lise Juberville of Hylands was the women’s senior champion, after rounds of 77 and 82 gave her a 14-over-par result of 159. Teri De Luis of Brockville was second at 82-80-162, and Diane Dolan of Hylands was third at 82-81-163.
Hayley Yerxa of Ottawa tied for 59th place at the 108th Canadian women’s amateur golf championship in Kitchener. She finished 25-over par at 80-75-82-80-317.
Three other Ottawa golfers didn’t make the cut – Ashley Lafontaine, 75-85-160; Antonia Ho, 84-83-167; and Stephanie Chiarotto, 91-93-184.
LETDOWN FOR KELLEIGH RYAN AT FENCING WORLDS
Kelleigh Ryan and the Canadian women’s foil fencing team had high hopes entering the July 16-22 Fencing World Championships in Egypt, with three athletes ranked inside the world’s top-10 for the first time ever, but the end results weren’t quite as lofty.
In her individual competition, Ryan ran into Romanian fencer Maria Boldor in her round of 64 and lost 15-5 to the eventual bronze medallist who also knocked out Canadian teammate Eleanor Harvey in the round of 16. Harvey earned the top Canadian result in ninth place, while Jessica Guo was 11th and Ryan 33rd.
In the women’s foil team event, Canada couldn’t climb past its quarter-final hurdle, falling 45-28 to Japan. The Canadians earlier beat Mexico 45-20 and then earned fifth place overall thanks to placement match victories over Poland (38-35) and Spain (45-21).
– with files from Javier Clavelo
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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