HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
If para swimmer Camille Bérubé of Gatineau and artistic gymnast Jenna Lalonde of Ottawa had an opportunity to meet at the Commonwealth Games, they would have had plenty to talk about.
Despite their 11-year age difference, they’d probably chat about their sport, training and living in the National Capital Region.
Second, they would likely smile, when they saw each other’s bronze medals and talk about how that process played out for them.
Third, they would likely talk about their contrasting careers, as Bérubé, 27 used her final race in Birmingham, England, to cap an accomplished career with a medal, while Lalonde, 16, saw her first major international competition produce a Games medal.
The end of their conversation might go something like this.
As Bérubé was stepping away from being a high-performance athlete, she might feel compelled to give Lalonde a little advice as the Ottawa Gymnastics Centre athlete was easing into the world of elite amateur sports.
“I’d say to the younger athletes to enjoy the early phases. You will perform better. Enjoy the process. It flies by. Trust the process. At the end of the day, you won’t remember all the times or the results,” said Bérubé, a two-time Paralympian.
Bérubé certainly enjoyed her farewell to high-performance sport on Monday, placing third in the women’s SB6 100-metre breaststroke in one minute, 43.81 seconds. The loudly cheering crowd brought home country women Maisie Summers-Newton to first in 1:32.72 and Grace Harvey to second in 1:43.29.
“It was spectacular,” Bérubé said about the bronze-medal effort in her featured race. “The crowd was incredible. I had two English swimmers in the final and they won gold and silver. The atmosphere was incredible. For the final race of my career, I couldn’t expect anything more from myself.”
In her only other final, Bérubé placed fourth in the women’s S8 100-metre backstroke in 1:26.00. She won the first World Para Swimming Championships medal of her career, also a bronze, in June.
“It’s a privilege to end my career on my own terms and when I still enjoy it,” said Bérubé, who will take a rare vacation this month before starting a job in September with Ingenium. “It’s something special to be on top and have a really good performance with your teammates and the people who have made the difference.
“I had an epiphany moment from the (Paralympic) Games last year. I had to see if I could do better than fifth at the Games. I said yes that I could reach the podium. But is it something I wanted to do? It’s a lot of work, dedication and sacrifice. I had other goals and objectives. It felt right to do it (retire).”
Lalonde arrived in Birmingham after a one-week training camp at Club La Sottevillaise in Paris, where the five young Canadian women were “positive, excited to train and get ready,” national team co-coach Melanie Major of the Ottawa Gymnastics Centre wrote in an email.
In the team competition on Sunday, Canada placed third at 152.7 points behind England at 161.1 and Australia at 158.0. Lalonde’s performances and marks counted in the uneven bars, beam and floor scores.
Lalonde’s uneven bars mark of 12.95 also placed her eighth and qualified her for the apparatus final on Monday. She finished fifth in the final with a personal-best score of 13.33, which was highlighted by the best execution mark of 8.333 among the eight competitors.
“I was really happy. The bars (in the team event) went well and because of that I qualified for the bars final. That was important to me and to the team it was very helpful,” Lalonde said in a phone interview.
“It (team event) was an amazing experience. We were very supportive of each other. We prepared with the camp before and got to know each other. Coming third was a very nice ending.”
Lalonde also had another satisfying ending, when she placed fifth in the uneven bars final.
“I came into the competition hoping to make one final and bars was my best opportunity,” added Lalonde, who was pleased with her execution mark.
“It has always been (high) because I work hard and it’s something I’m known for. It’s one of the reasons I achieved that score. It means a lot. I was super happy, when I landed. I knew I had done my best.”
Lalonde also was happy that she could experience her Commonwealth Games results with her club coach, who was equally thrilled.
“I was very proud of Jenna’s mindset throughout the competition,” Major continued in her email. “She was able to be in the moment. We had a mistake on beam, but I believe with more experience and more confidence beam could be one of her strongest events.”
Lalonde’s preparation for the Games was helped by several European competitions this year.
“We have participated in some international competitions, which gave her an idea of what to expect with travel, training and competing abroad,” Major added. “Jenna loves being part of a team. Bottom line, these Games were important to her and she has worked hard on her preparation.”
Meanwhile, Canada improved its women’s field hockey record to 2-1 at the Games on Tuesday with a convincing 8-1 win over Ghana.
Goalkeeper Rowan Harris of Ottawa didn’t play the game, after giving a standout performance two days earlier in a 1-0 loss to world No. 5 England. Harris stopped all but one of England’s 20 shots.
Alexander Bird has seen good field time for the Canadian men’s field hockey team, which lost 5-1 to Wales and tied Ghana 1-1 on a last-minute goal.
Canadian co-flagbearer Josh Cassidy of the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club placed fourth in the men’s T54 wheelchair marathon in 1:47.47. He was 1:48 behind the bronze medallist. In his career, Cassidy has won the Boston, London and Los Angeles marathons.
In Tuesday’s athletics competition, Pembroke’s Madeleine Kelly of Guelph’s Royal City Athletic Club placed fifth in her women’s 800-metre heat in 2:02.99 and didn’t advance to the final. She needed to run 2:00.40 or better to make the final eight.
Ottawa’s Olivia De Couvreur and Gatineau’s Pamphinette Buisa played for the bronze medal in women’s rugby 7s, but were defeated 19-12 by powerful New Zealand.
De Couvreur averaged 11 minutes of playing time in each of Canada’s five games and scored two tries in a 74-0 round-robin win over Sri Lanka. Buisa played slightly more than four minutes a game until the bronze-medal match, when she was on the field for eight minutes.
Canada posted a 2-1 record in the round-robin before losing to Fiji 24-7 in the semifinals.
In men’s rugby 7s, Canada also was 2-1 in pool play, including a 24-12 win over Zambia and a tight 19-12 loss to Fiji. Canada was eliminated from medal play, when eventual gold-medallist South Africa rolled to a 33-0 victory in the quarterfinals. In its final game for fifth to eighth place, Samoa defeated Canada 19-17.
Elias Hancock continued to play a supportive role from the sidelines for Canada, but did play one minute in the Zambia game.
Track cyclist Ariane Bonhomme of Gatineau was eighth in the women’s individual pursuit, 10th in the scratch race and 12th in the 25-kilometre points race.
Osgoode’s Derek Gee didn’t finish his scratch race and Edmonton’s Ngaire Barraclough of the Ottawa-based Cyclery Racing Team wasn’t able to complete the women’s points race.
BARRACUDAS PLACE NINTH, ALEJANDRO GIGGEY DOUBLE CHAMPON
Alejandro Giggey of the Nepean-Kanata Barracudas posted two wins in the men’s open division during the Canada junior and senior swimming championships in Montreal’s Olympic pool.
Giggey won the 100-metre backstroke in 1:02.98 and the 400-metre individual medley in 4:46.44. His two victories and a fourth-place result in the 50-metre breaststroke in 30.37 helped the Barracudas place ninth in the combined team competition with 751.50 points.
Former Greater Ottawa Kingfish swimmer Regan Rathwell recorded five second-place finishes in the women’s 18+ division for High Performance Centre – Ontario before winning the 200-metre backstroke in 2:11.28.
Her second-place results were in the 50-metre backstroke, 28:35; 100-metre backstroke, 1:00.90; 200-metre individual medley, 2:16.37; 400-metre individual medley, 4:49.87; and the 50-metre breaststroke, 32.10.
“There are a lot of really great swimmers here so I’m not necessarily disappointed with the silver medals,” Rathwell told Swimming Canada. “Everybody I’ve come second to is an incredible swimmer fully deserving of their gold medal. I’m just happy it (200-metre backstroke) was my turn this time.”
The Kingfish club produced three national champions and was 14th in the club standings at 571 points – Ashley McMillan, women’s 18+, 200-metre individual medley, 2:13.47; Danika Éthier, women’s 15-17 years, 100-metre breaststroke, 1:10.42; and University of Denver’s Kali Metuzals, women’s open, 200-metre freestyle, 2:07.79.
Olympian Bailey Andison of the Carleton Place Water Dragons won the women’s 18+ 400-metre individual medley in 4:45.26.
TOKESSY BASEBALL TOURNAMENT RAISES $35,000 FOR CHEO
The 25th Scott Tokessy Memorial Gold Glove baseball tournament attracted 45 teams in 10 divisions and raised more than $35,000 for CHEO.
Canada’s largest Little League charity tournament has raised more than $440,000 in its quarter century.
The tournament champions were Kingston, junior A; Kanata, junior B; High Park 12U, major all-star; Kanata Major B2, major B; Brockville, major A; Fayetteville, minor all-star; East Nepean Green, minor A; Kanata, minor B; East Nepean, rookie A; and Kanata, rookie B.
RENFREW GOLFERS DOMINATE OVGA MEN’S MEDAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Renfrew Golf Club members swept the top three places in the men’s competition at the Ottawa Valley Golf Association medal championship.
Playing over three consecutive days at the Rockland, Renfrew and Royal Ottawa courses respectively, Stephane Pare won with a two-under-par 213 (72-67-74), while Jonah O’Connor was second at 218 (72-71-75) and Jaegat Prot tied for third at 219 (81-67-71) with Brendan Kuffner of Royal Ottawa (71-70-78).
Haley Yerxa of the Ottawa Hunt was the women’s champion at 78-76-71 with a seven-over-par 225. Hylands’ golfers filled out the top three – Diane Dolan was second at 85-77-77-239 and OVGA senior champion Lise Jubinville claimed third at 84-78-80-242.
CYCLIST ALEX CATAFORD BREAKS COLLARBONE IN CRASH
Israel-Premier Tech has lost Ottawa’s Alex Cataford for the next four to six weeks, after he crashed more than a week ago at the one-day Prueba Villafranca-Ordiziako Klasika cycling race in Spain.
With about 41 kilometres remaining in the 165.7-kilometre race, Cataford hit the asphalt on his left shoulder, when the cyclist in front of him went down. Cataford broke his collarbone.
“Not exactly how I wanted (the) second part of the season to start,” Cataford posted on Instagram. “Unfortunately, I went down and fractured my collarbone at GP Ordizia on Monday (July 25).
“Location of the break means a bit slower recovery that will keep me out for the foreseeable future. But motivated to get back to finish off the season strong.”
OTTAWA ROWERS FINISH IN TOP-10 AT U19/U23 WORLDS
A pair of local rowers earned top-10 results at the July 25-31 World Rowing U19 & U23 Championships in Italy.
Competing in the U19 Women’s Four event, Riley Richardson helped Canada to a fifth-place result in their heat, sixth in the repêchage and fourth in the B final to finish 10th overall, while Aidan Hembruff helped the Canadian U23 Men’s Eight crew to fourth in their heat, fifth in repêchage and third in B final to place ninth overall.
OTTAWA PADDLER PLACES 35TH AT CANOE SLALOM WORLDS
Ottawa’s Lois Betteridge came closest to reaching the semi-final round among the Canadian contingent competing at the July 26-31 Canoe Slalom World Championships in Germany.
The 24-year-old placed 35th overall in the women’s canoe event (five places away from advancing through the heats) and 48th in women’s kayak, while fellow Ottawa River Runners paddler Maël Rivard placed 67th in men’s kayak.
LOCAL FIELD HOCKEY PLAYERS WILL GO FOR BRONZE AT NATIONALS
Brendan Goddard and Matthew Mackay of the Nepean Nighthawks Field Hockey Club will be playing for bronze tomorrow at the July 29-Aug. 3 national field hockey championships in Surrey, B.C.
The members of Team Quebec fell 4-3 to Ontario in today’s semi-final after posting a 2-2 record in pool play. Goddard has scored three goals in the tournament, while Mackay has one.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 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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