(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
Team Ontario’s medal count at the start of day five of the Canada Summer Games in Niagara is 17 — and a whopping four of those medals are thanks to one Ottawa athlete.
Julie Brousseau of the Nepean Kanata Barracudas took home gold in the 4×200-metre relay freestyle race on Sunday, then gold in the 400-metre IM and bronze in the 100-metre freestyle on Monday. To cap it off, Brousseau won bronze in the 4×100-metre medley mixed relay on Tuesday.
It’s been a whirlwind three days for the 16-year-old, who is currently the most decorated Ontario athlete at the Games.
“It’s a bit of a surprise, honestly, because I’m just trying to go with my times and see what happens,” Brousseau said.
What makes it more of a surprise is that this is the first competition of this scale that Brousseau has competed in.
“It’s super fun meeting new people from different provinces and trading pins,” Brousseau said.
She said the highlight of the Games so far is either the 4×200-metre relay, because of the team effort, or the 400-metre IM, when another Ontario athlete won silver.
Also medaling multiple times in swimming was Katie Xu of the Nepean Riptides Special Olympics. She won gold in the 50-metre Special Olympics breaststroke and silver in the 100-metre Special Olympics freestyle.
“I love to swim faster and work hard,” Xu said. “It makes me feel comfortable as the fastest athlete.”
Xu doesn’t just dominate in her events at swimming. She is also a figure skater and travelled to Austria in 2017 for the Special Olympics World Winter Games and starred in a Special Olympics commercial in 2018.
Like Xu, it’s also not Gael Shindano’s first trip to a major multi-sport competition. Shindano, who finished sixth in the 100-metre Special Olympics freestyle and eighth in the 50-metre Special Olympics breaststroke, went to the Canada Summer Games in 2017, where he earned bronze.
His dad Goylain said it was a long journey back during the pandemic.
“It was hard to get time for swimming and training, so most of the exercises we were doing were dry land, in the house and running around,” Goylain said. “It was very hard mentally.”
Hartill, Ontario men’s soccer advances to semifinals
Carleton Place’s Jason Hartill had already studied up on Saskatchewan before Tuesday. He and the Ontario men’s soccer team knew Saskatchewan would come out fast and hard in their final game of pool play — the game that would determine which team moved on to the semifinals and which team was eliminated from medal contention.
Entering Tuesday, Ontario and Saskatchewan were tied for first in their pool with one win apiece, but Ontario’s 3-0 win — far more competitive than their 7-0 win over the Northwest Territories on Sunday — ensured Hartill’s hopes of winning gold would stay alive.
“We knew [the stakes] going into this game, so we made sure we’re not leaving this tournament after this game,” Hartill said. “We wanted to go through.”
Mason Petrucci scored in the fourth minute, staking Ontario to an early lead, but it was all the team would get for more than 50 minutes. Despite playing in a narrow do-or-die game, Hartill said the team was confident its shots would start going through.
“We were creating chances and we knew we were gonna get goals,” Hartill said of the message shared by his teammates at halftime. “We just kept playing how we were playing and we did that and we got the win.”
Two goals in the second half — one from Lucas Ozimec in the 58th minute and another from Myles Morgan in minute 71 — made the lead more comfortable for Ontario.
Hartill will enjoy an off-day tomorrow before he and Team Ontario are back in action in the semifinals against New Brunswick, which went undefeated in pool D. The teams will play at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Youngs Sportsplex in Welland, Ont.
In the meantime, Hartill said the team won’t have an intense training session but may get technical work in without cleats today.
Wangolo joins the fun as women’s basketball advances to playoffs
The Ontario women’s basketball team also enjoyed a win in their second matchup of the Games, pulling away in a dominant fourth quarter for an 83-55 victory over Manitoba at the Meridian Centre in St. Catherines.
While Ontario led by only seven points entering the final 10 minutes of play, it went on to outscore Manitoba 24-5 to end the game.
All three Ottawa athletes on the roster — teammates Catrina Garvey, Achol Akot and Jessica Wangolo from Capital Courts Academy — saw time on the court. Wangolo sat in Monday’s 95-47 win over PEI because she’s dealing with a knee injury and her coach wanted her to be available for the tournament’s important games.
Wangolo wasn’t sure if she would be attending the Canada Games until recently, but after feeling strong while competing in the U17 national basketball championship, which ran from Aug. 1-6, she decided to head to Niagara to sustain her momentum.
“Just playing for an older age group is always a challenge for me, so being able to do that is always fun,” Wangolo said of the Games.
With back-to-back wins, Ontario finished first in its pool and will play at 10:45 a.m. this morning against the Yukon Territories, who were outscored 245-45 across two games in their pool. If Ontario wins, they will advance to the quarterfinals.
“The only thing that we would need to win is everyone needs to be 100 percent all the time,” Wangolo said. “Head in the game, locking down on defence, and our shots will fall on offence.”
Lacrosse, rugby sevens headed to playoffs
In other action, Manotick’s Tristan Thompson and Ontario women’s box lacrosse team lost 4-2 to Alberta, a surprise after Ontario’s dominant first two games of pool play. The loss set up a three-way tie atop the pool A standings, which Ontario won.
As a result, they’ll play at 5 p.m. against the winner of a PEI-Saskatchewan game.
In rugby sevens, Ottawa’s Rachel Callum and Team Ontario won two big games against Saskatchewan and Alberta. They’ll play in the quarterfinals at 3:22 p.m. today at Brock’s Alumni Field, with the possibility of playing in the semifinals at 5:44 p.m. and gold medal game at 9 p.m.
After Ontario’s mixed team tennis event against British Columbia was rained out part-way through Monday, the action resumed yesterday with a 4-2 loss. Ray Xie lost his doubles match 6-3 while Anna-Raphaëlle Serghi lost hers 6-4.
In women’s team wrestling, Ontario — with local products Lilah Fraser and Laila Seed-Desai — won its three duels. It will face Alberta at 2 p.m. today in a duel that could decide whether Ontario plays for gold at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
On the men’s side of the sport, a similar situation is shaping up, with Kai Harada and Team Ontario tied with Alberta for first. The gold medal game will also take place at 7:30 p.m.
The day ahead
As week one of the Games reaches the midway point, we’ve got a busy day ahead. After finishing 13th in the cross country mountain bike race on Monday, Xander Woodford will compete in the mountain bike relay at 12:30 p.m. today at Twelve Mile Creek.
You can follow all the action today — including the start of the playoffs for women’s basketball, women’s box lacrosse, women’s rugby sevens and men’s and women’s team wrestling — via live stream at niagara2022games.ca/watch.
(This article was first sent to subscribers of the free Ottawa at the Canada Summer Games Daily Newsletter. Sign us to receive it below!)
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