(This article was first sent to subscribers of the Ottawa at the Canada Summer Games Daily Newsletter. Sign up to receive it, for free, here.)
By Mark Colley, Dan Plouffe, Martin Cleary, Charlie Pinkerton & Adamo Marinelli
The Canada Summer Games in Niagara got off with a bang yesterday and Ottawa collected its first medal thanks to swimmer Olivier Risk. Risk won gold with Team Ontario’s 4×200-metre freestyle relay team, capping off an intense day of competition for the 16-year-old.
The Ravens of Carleton Swimming athlete also competed in the 800m freestyle, finishing fifth with a time of 8:36:59. After the 800m, Risk said he wasn’t happy with his performance but was still looking forward to the relay.
“To be honest, it wasn’t my best race,” Risk said. “I just gotta put my head down and focus on the relay coming up and perform there.”
Perform he did. Ontario finished nearly five seconds faster than British Columbia, which won silver, and close to 15 seconds faster than third-place Alberta. Risk said he expected a podium in the event but felt sore after completing the 800-metre earlier.
“I’m already exhausted,” he explained. “I feel like I can still swim sore and perform well … I just gotta swim the race correctly and think I can still get a good time.”
The team celebrated the win in the evening with a medal presentation at Niagara Place, a festival site next to the Canada Games Park with food trucks and live music.
Risk started swimming when he was four and joined the Ravens of Carleton Swimming program at age seven. In addition to the Canada Summer Games, Risk will also compete in the FINA world junior open-water championships Sept. 1-4 in the Seychelles after a stellar time in the 1,500m swim.
Ottawa’s Julie Brousseau earned a matching gold medal on the female side in the 4×200-metre relay. Team Ontario earned a very comfortable victory of over six seconds ahead of second-place B.C. (and were safely on the podium by over 18 seconds clear of fourth-place Quebec).
The Canada Summer Games gold is the latest success in what’s already been a standout season for the 16-year-old Nepean-Kanata Barracudas swimmer. Brousseau set seven new personal bests in all seven of her events at the Canadian swim trials back in April, which earned her a trip to Hawaii later this summer for the Aug. 24-27 Junior Pan Pacific Swimming Championships.
The other local athlete who raced on the first day of the Canada Games swimming competition was Nicholas Scott. The 19-year-old from the Ottawa Youth Olympians Swim Club placed sixth in the combined para male class.
Hartill handles heat in 7-0 win
Ontario men’s soccer has a reputation. After winning gold at the last Summer Games and bronze in 2013, the goal is clear: stand at the top of the podium or go home disappointed.
The team took a step towards it yesterday, winning 7-0 against the Northwest Territories in a sunny, sweaty afternoon matchup at the Youngs Sportsplex in Welland, Ont.
Featured prominently was Carleton Place’s Jason Hartill, who came up through the West Ottawa Soccer Club and the Ontario Player Development League before joining Toronto FC’s U19 academy.
“We had a lot of pressure on our shoulders,” Hartill said of the big win. “We just wanted to play how we usually play and show them why that pressure’s on our shoulders and that we’re here to win.”
The centre midfielder started playing soccer when he was four, taking after his older sister. He said everyone in his family played the sport and the choice was natural. Since then, soccer has turned into a passion.
“It’s what I love to do. It makes me happy when I play it,” Hartill said.
Sunday’s game unfolded under intense conditions, with a heat warning in place and a game-time temperature feeling like 42 degrees with the humidity. But Hartill said it’s something the team is used to after playing a tournament in Texas in 40-degree heat.
“It’s hard but we get used to it. We have all the recovery tools we need,” Hartill said. “I think we can handle it.”
The team will be back in action today at 4:30 p.m. against Saskatchewan. It’s the final game of Ontario’s pool play before qualification starts on Thursday.
“We want nothing less than gold,” Hartill said. “That’s why we’re here.”
First-ever win in first-ever game
Ontario’s women’s box lacrosse team also started their Games strong, posting a 5-0 win over British Columbia in their first game of competition — and one of the first games of women’s box lacrosse ever at the Canada Summer Games.
Manotick’s Tristan Thompson received a two-minute penalty for a high stick but stuck around to see her goalie, Brampton’s Kayla Kondo, make 47 saves. B.C. outshot Ontario 47-32 but Kondo stepped up in the moment.
Thompson was one of two Ottawa athletes to light the Canada Summer Games torch two months ago on Parliament Hill. She attends St. Mark Catholic High School, where she plays field lacrosse, and she also plays box lacrosse for the Gloucester Griffins and Nepean Knights.
Ontario will get back to it today with a 2 p.m. game against Nova Scotia. The brand-new $107-million Canada Games Park is playing host to box lacrosse at this year’s games.
Out of town, Ontario beat Alberta 4-2 in six matches of mixed team tennis at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Tennis Club. Ottawa product Anna-Raphaëlle Serghi lost her match, but Ray Xie — coached by Nick Mook Sang, the same coach as Serghi — won his.
Tennis will continue today with a match against British Columbia at 9 a.m.
No Monday blues
It will be a busy Monday at the Games as Ottawa athletes compete in six events across the Niagara region.
In addition to box lacrosse and tennis, we’ll also be following the action at Brock University’s Alumni Field, where Ontario’s female rugby sevens team will take the pitch for the first time at the Games. Ontario will play twice — first at 4:06 p.m. against Nova Scotia, then again at 8:06 p.m. against New Brunswick.
Rachel Callum is the team’s only Ottawa representative. Callum, 18, has played rugby for four years and fields the fly-half and centre positions.
Other events on the docket include women’s basketball at 5:30 p.m. against Prince Edward Island. The trio of Ottawa athletes on the team — Jessica Wangolo, Achol Akot and Catrina Garvey — all play together at Capital Courts Academy and have hopes of winning gold, just as they did with CCA at this year’s OSBA championship.
Ottawa’s Xander Woodford will be competing in the male cross country mountain bike race at 2:30 p.m., while swimmers Grace Lu (50-metre breaststroke), Risk (200-metre butterfly), Gael Shindano (Special Olympics 100-metre freestyle and 50-metre breaststroke) and Julie Brousseau (100-metre freestyle and 400-metre IM) will also be in action during the day.
You can follow all the action via live stream at niagara2022games.ca/watch.
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