(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 Dan Plouffe, Charlie Pinkerton, Mark Colley & Adamo Marinelli
It’s cliche to say siblings can finish each other’s sentences, but with the Wojtyk sisters of the Rideau Canoe Club, a conversation is akin to a Mad Libs fill-in-the-blank between two friends.
“Our parents are really excited about that,” 19-year-old Amelia said about racing in the same boat. “Our whole family is like, ‘Oh my god! The sisters’ boat! The sisters’ boat!’” 17-year-old Zoe chipped in immediately.
It’s the first time the pair has competed together in an event, despite training together for years. The Games couldn’t have gone much better, with the sisters combining to win 10 medals, including three together.
Those joint podiums came in the IC4 200-metre, IC4 500-metre and C2 1000-metre. It beats racing against each other.
“You never want your younger sister to catch you,” Zoe said. “There’s nothing like lining up for a 500 beside your younger sibling like, I can’t actually lose this race,” Amelia added.
Amelia and Zoe have two younger sisters who also paddle. The family’s obsession with the sport started when a friend of Amelia’s convinced her to join a summer camp at the Rideau Canoe Club in middle school.
Zoe and her other siblings followed suit when they saw Amelia having “so much fun,” Zoe said.
“I feel like we behave more like friends than siblings,” Amelia said. “We’ve kind of gotten over it,” Zoe added.
When asked what they’ve gotten over, Zoe meant her rivalry with her siblings.
“Sometimes you’re like, ooh, are they gonna beat me?” Zoe said. “[But] seeing each other do well, I guess that’s what matters most. So as long as we’re all doing well, giving it our all, then we’re happy with that.”
During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the four sisters trained together in the family’s basement. They did Zoom calls with coaches and body-weight exercises — and even built their own bench press.
“All four sisters trying to rip out pushups in the basement,” Amelia laughed. “It was funny.”
The experience and unconventional training has helped Zoe and Amelia to where they are today. Amelia is a student at Dalhousie University and competes with the Mic Mac Amateur Aquatic Club on Lake Banook in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
She said she’s enjoyed the experience so far.
Up next for both sisters is nationals next week, then worlds in Hungary. But the memories of Niagara 2022 — their first time competing together — will be long-lasting.
“To be able to race with my older sister, that’s pretty cool,” Zoe said. “The family’s going craaaazy.”
Bradley siblings also bring home medals
The Wojtyk siblings aren’t the only Rideau Canoe Club siblings competing at the Games.
Twenty-year-old Maren Bradley has led Rideau’s successful trip to the Games with three gold medals and two silver, while her 18-year-old brother Peter has two silver and a bronze to his name.
Even for Maren, an RBC Future Olympian who has won multiple national championships, the experience of the Canada Games has been unique. Like the Wojtyk sisters, it’s her first time competing on Team Ontario with her brother.
“It really helps tie in family to sport, which is obviously a really great thing, and just knowing you’ll always have that support there for you is really awesome,” Maren said. “It really shows just the connections and how sports can bring people together.”
As an added bonus, the Bradley’s grandparents live in Fonthill, a short 15-minute drive from the Welland International Flatwater Centre.
“They’re always our number one fans at the courses,” Maren said. “You can always hear the Bradley cheer squad going loud.”
Bradley credited the coaches at Rideau Canoe — especially Chey and Reid Farquharson — for the club’s success at the Games. In total, including hardware from fellow Rideau athletes Ydris Hunter, Evie McDonald, Matt O’Neill and Janina Winnicki, the club took home 20 medals.
“We owe it all to our coaches. They’ve created such an awesome, supportive environment for us to grow up in and for us to improve in as athletes,” Bradley said. “It actually has really helped us improve as people first and then as athletes second.”
Bradley said one of the biggest ways she’s grown through Rideau Canoe is the friends she’s made. Those connections have started to follow her to Dalhousie, where she is entering her fourth year studying commerce.
In addition to Amelia Wojtyk, her brother will be starting his first year at Dalhousie this fall.
“I’ve really kind of got a whole Rideau group slowly following me over the years,” Maren joked. “[I] started a little trend there.”
Adjibi breaks Canada Games record with 100-metre gold
Ottawa collected a host of medals in athletics, including gold for Madison McLean in javelin and Eliezer Adjibi in the 100-metre dash. Adjibi broke the Canada Games record with a time of 10.32 seconds.
Two Ottawa athletes — Adjibi and David Adeleye — also won gold in the 4×100-metre relay. Also medaling in athletics was Thomas Becker, who won a silver medal in high jump and David Moulongou who won a silver medal in the 400-metre hurdles.
The Ontario women’s volleyball team lost three sets to two against Saskatchewan in the quarterfinals at Canada Games Park, ending their quest for the gold medal earlier than they hoped. The match was as tight as possible, with Ontario scoring only three fewer total points than Saskatchewan across the five sets.
Things worked out much better for the men’s box lacrosse team, who topped New Brunswick in a 15-1 rout in the quarterfinals. Julien Belair of the Gloucester Griffins put together another impressive stat line, scoring three goals and assisting on two others, while fellow Griffin Hunter Lubiniecki had a goal of his own with two assists.
What today will bring
After their quarterfinal win, Team Ontario box lacrosse will face Alberta in the semifinal at 5 p.m. The team is still undefeated through four matches at the Games and is outscoring their opponents 50-9.
While women’s volleyball is no longer in the running for gold, they’ll play in a consolation match on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. If they win, they’ll compete for fifth place on Sunday.
Lucy Hempstead will be looking for her third medal of the Games when she competes in road cycling criterium at 3 p.m. Aidan Hembruff will be looking for his first when he competes in the rowing eight with coxswain final at noon.
Ottawa’s David Adeleye, Luca Nicoletti, David Moulongou and Doyin Ogunremi will have medal opportunities when their athletic events start at 11:50 a.m.
Audrée Howes will dive in the preliminary round of the one-metre springboard at 10:30 a.m.
You can follow all the action today 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!)
By clicking on the submit button, you consent to receive the above newsletter from the Ottawa Sports Pages. You may unsubscribe by clicking on the link at the bottom of our emails. Ottawa Sports Pages | 345 Meadowbreeze Dr., Kanata, Ont., K2M 0K3 | 613-261-5838
HELP SHINE A LIGHT ON LOCAL SPORT! The Ottawa Sports Pages has proudly provided a voice for local sport for over 10 years, but we need your help to continue another 10 and beyond. Please donate to the Ottawa Sports Pages Fund today.