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By Dan Plouffe
Ottawa is punching far above its weight with a giant team of 51 athletes ready to rock with Team Ontario at the Aug. 6-21 Canada Summer Games in Niagara Region, and many of those competitors have already shown that they can win the top prize nationally.
More than 5,000 total participants (including 3,766 registered athletes, along with coaches and support staff) will attend the Games to represent their provinces in events held across the Niagara Region.
One out of eight members of Team Ontario are from Ottawa, which is about double what’s expected based on population.
This matches Ottawa’s over-representation at the last Olympics too, and is a strong indicator that the tradition may continue at future Games.
The age categories vary by sport, but generally speaking, Canada Games athletes are in their late teenage years or early 20s.
The Canada Games often provide young athletes a first taste of a multi-sport games and allow them to gain experience on the road to representing Canada at senior-level games.
Roughly two-thirds of Canadian Olympians competed at Canada Games before making it to sport’s biggest stage.
Team Ontario athletes will be expected to help the host province hold onto the Canada Summer Games flag (awarded to the province/territory that’s accumulated the most points in their ranking system). Ontario will have the chance to make it a neat dozen in a row, having earned the most flag points in every edition since 1977.
Ottawa has representatives in 14 of the 18 sports on the Canada Games programme, and many of the individuals already own national crowns in their sports.
Earlier in the past two weeks, the Ottawa Sports Pages featured athletes from athletics, basketball, box lacrosse, cycling, diving, soccer, swimming and volleyball – which includes a number of national champs as well – along with coaches, in an Ottawa at the Canada Summer Games pre-Games profiles series, presented by City of Ottawa Sports Commissioner Mathieu Fleury.
The biggest crop of national champs hail from the Rideau Canoe Club, which has won the past three Canadian club titles. Eight of 18 Team Ontario canoe-kayak athletes represent Rideau, and many have previously won individual national gold medals in their age groups.
Their crew is led by 2019 world junior championships medallist Maren Bradley, who was a six-time Canadian junior champion that same season. Peter Bradley, Ydris Hunter, Evie McDonald, Matt O’Neill, Janina Winnicki, Amelia Wojtyk and Zoe Wojtyk also own their share of national hardware.
Tennis player Anna-Raphaëlle Serghi also enters the Canada Summer Games with top pedigree, having won the Canadian U16 and U18 indoor titles earlier this year. The 15-year-old is the youngest member of the Ontario tennis contingent, and will compete alongside fellow Carleton Tennis Centre product Ray Xie in the mixed team event.
Rounding out the local group of Team Ontario athletes are rower Aidan Hembruff, rugby sevens player Rachel Cullum, sailor Aethan Cubitt and wrestlers Lilah Fraser, Kai Harada and Laila Seed-Desai.
Over the next two weeks, the Ottawa Sports Pages will be providing daily coverage of Ottawa at the Canada Summer Games, with reporters onsite in Niagara. Stories will be posted on OttawaSportsPages.ca and a free daily newsletter will be sent by email to subscribers.
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