HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
Sophia Jensen is entering a stage of well-earned down time.
And the timing couldn’t be better, after two productive world championships, where the Cascades Canoe Club athlete proved she’s one of the best sprint canoeists on the global waterways.
In the wake of one gold, one silver and two bronze medals at last week’s world U23 and junior canoe sprint championships in Szeged, Hungary, and one gold and one silver medals at the recent world senior championships in Dartmouth, N.S., it’s time for a rest.
Jensen will take a few courses at the University of Ottawa and is planning a hiking trip into the Adirondack Mountains before resuming her regular training schedule for the 2023 season. Being at home in Chelsea means she’ll probably celebrate her 21st birthday on Sept. 18 with her parents Olaf and Alison.
“I’m really happy with my performances this week,” Jensen told Sportcom in a weekend interview. “It has been a very long season. I’m happy with the way everything went.”
Canada won nine medals at the combined world U23 and junior championships and National Capital Region padders accounted for or were part of seven of them. Jensen earned four in the U23 class, while three Rideau Canoe Club canoeists were responsible for three junior-division bronze medals.
In the overall Nations Cup points standings, Canada placed seventh with 764 points, while the top three countries were Hungary at 1,392, Spain at 1,126 and Germany at 1,043. The discipline standings showed Canada was second in women’s canoeing and fourth in men’s canoe.
Jensen, Sloan McKenzie and Jacy Grant, both of Cheema Aquatic Club, and Julia Lilley Osende of Mic Mac Aquatic Canoe Club led from start to finish to capture the women’s U23 C4 500-metre gold medal in one minute, 50.81 seconds. They defeated crews from Poland by 1.77 seconds and Hungary by 2.77 in the four-boat final.
Four one-hundredths of a second was the difference between gold and silver in the C2 mixed 500 metres as Jensen and Alix Plomteux of Club de Canoe-Kayak Lac Beauport placed second. Spain overcame the Canadian crew in the final few strokes for a winning time of 1:49.59, while Canada stopped in 1:49.63.
In another tight A Final, Jensen finished third in the women’s C1 200 metres in 47.06, while Anita Jacome of Spain won in 46.37 and Changwen Shuai of China was second in 46.92.
Jensen and long-time teammate Osende missed the gold medal in the C2 500 metres by 0.51 seconds, when they were third with a time of 1:56.79.
At her first world U23 championships in 2021, Jensen won two gold, one silver and one bronze medals.
Tyler Laidlaw of Sack-a-Wa Canoe Club, Plomteux, Andrew Billard of Maskwa Aquatic Club and Matthew O’Neill of Rideau were fifth in the men’s C4 500 metres in 1:40.38, while Spain was eight seconds faster for the victory.
Riley Melanson of Cheema, Maren Bradley and Toshka Besharah-Hrebacka, both of Rideau, and Sarah Nagy of Richmond Hill Canoe Club were ninth in the women’s K4 500 metres in 1:40.03.
Zoe Wojtyk was a double junior bronze medallist for Canada. After placing third in the women’s C2 500 metres with Rideau’s Mila Souilliere in 2:03.27, Wojtyk concluded her worlds by earning a podium placement in the C1 5,000 metres with a clocking of 27:27.10. Zojtyk, who also was seventh in the C1 500 metres, was 58.98 seconds behind China and less than 12 seconds back of Hungary in the marathon.
Peter Bradley took bronze in the men’s C1 5,000 metres in 24:29.20 as Poland won in 24:10.11 and Czech Republic was second. Bradley also was fourth in the C4 500 metres with Zachary Kralik of the Mississauga Canoe Club, Austin Pigeon of the South Niagara Canoe Club, and Viktor Hardy of Lac Beauport.
The other Rideau junior A finalists were Janina Winnicki, Ruby Muhl and Souilliere placing fifth in the C4 500 metres with Elizabeth Desrosiers-McArthur of Lac Beauport; and Muhl finishing eighth in the C1 1,000 metres.
And Rideau could be celebrating more medals and A Finals later this month at two more international competitions.
Muhl and Julia Price will race in the women’s canoe U16 division, while Callie Lock will compete in women’s U16 kayak and Thomas Beauregard will paddle in the men’s U17 kayak class at the four-day Olympic Hopes regatta starting on Thursday in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Canoeists Amelia Wojtyk and Evie McDonald and coach Rowan Hardy-Kavanagh will represent Canada and Rideau at the world university canoe sprint championships Sept. 16-18 on Poland’s oldest course in Bydgoszcz.
JAMIE LEE RATTRAY EARNS SECOND WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP GOLD
So, what have you been doing for the past 369 days?
If you were a member of Canada’s national women’s hockey team, you were winning gold medals. Not one or two, but three major championships.
Kanata’s Jamie Lee Rattray can tell you all about it as the forward helped Canada win its 12th world women’s hockey championship Sunday in Herning, Denmark, after capturing the 2021 Olympic gold medal on Feb. 17 and the 2021 world title on Aug. 31.
Canada defeated archrival United States 2-1 in the 2022 world championship final on a pair of second-period goals from Brianne Jenner. Rattray played an instrumental role in Jenner’s first goal as she skated hard to the net. Instead of making a pass, Jenner used Rattray as a decoy ahead of her low, successful shot.
Playing five of the six games at worlds (missing the 8-1 semi-final win over Switzerland), Rattray had one goal, was a plus-five and took one minor penalty.
It was Rattray’s fifth world championship final in eight years, but only her second gold medal. She was a silver medallist in 2015, 2016 and 2019. Rattray has counted seven goals and four assists in 25 world championship games over five years.
CLARISSA LARISEY MAKES NATIONAL WOMEN’S SOCCER DEBUT
Forward Clarissa Larisey of Ottawa has made her debut with Canada’s national women’s soccer team, playing in one of two friendlies against Australia at the new Brisbane Football Stadium.
At the 75th-minute of the first game, Larisey replaced Adriana Leon of King City, ON., who scored the match’s only goal. Larisey played the final 15 minutes of regular time and three minutes of injury time in front of more than 25,000 fans.
“A moment I will never forget, incredibly honoured,” Larisey, who plays professional soccer in Scotland for Celtic FC, posted on Twitter.
Canada also won the second game on Tuesday 2-1 on a pair of Leon goals, but Larisey, a University of Memphis graduate, didn’t dress for the match. In 2021, Larisey played in Iceland.
Ottawa’s Vanessa Gilles was one of numerous Canadian defenders to miss the series due to injury.
JUNIOR FOOTBALL TEAMS WIN, UNIVERSITY TEAMS LOSE
The Ottawa Sooners improved their Ontario Football Conference record to 3-1, after a 53-3 win over the Quinte Skyhawks.
Returner Keyshawn Upshaw-Tynes was named the conference’s special teams player of the week for returning three kicks for a combined 213 yards and two touchdowns.
The Ottawa rookie returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown and a missed field goal for a 115-yard touchdown. He also had one punt return for 10 yards.
The Ottawa Junior Riders outscored Chateauguay Jr. Raiders 27-18 to move into sole possession of first place at 3-0 in the Quebec Major Junior Football League. The Riders will face undefeated South Shore Jr. Packers (2-0) on Saturday at Minto Field.
Campbell Fair, the OUA’s special teams player of the week for his opening-week placement kicking, continued to be the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees’ main offensive threat.
But this time there were no late-game heroics as the Gee-Gees fell 26-16 to Queen’s University Gaels before 3,729 fans at TD Place. Fair kicked field goals from 30, 43 and 37 yards and converted Willy-Pierre Dimbongi’s 75-yard, pass-and-run TD with quarterback Ben Maracle.
Carleton University Ravens followed a similar script as host University of Toronto Varsity Blues scored a 28-13 victory.
Placement kicker Brandon Forcier counted seven points for the Ravens on field goals from 29 and 31 yards and a convert to Kaseem Ferdinand’s nine-yard, TD pass reception from quarterback Tanner DeJong.
In his first game since transferring to the University of Miami from West Virginia University, defensive lineman Akheem Mesidor of Ottawa had a highlight-reel first half as the Hurricanes defeated Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats 70-13 in NCAA Division 1 football.
Mesidor, who stands 6-3 and 280 pounds, recorded four tackles, including three solo, one tackle for lost yardage, one sack and one pass breakup.
Ottawa’s Wesley Bailey, a 6-3 defensive lineman, posted one tackle, three assisted tackles and a shared sack as Rutgers University defeated Boston College 22-21.
WOODS RESUMES RACING IN TOUR OF BRITAIN
Ottawa’s Michael Woods is back in the saddle, after a first-stage crash and concussion forced him out of the prestigious La Vuelta in Spain.
Woods is racing the eight-stage Tour of Britain and sits in 29th place (overall) in the General Classification, after the first three stages. Placing 26th, 44th and 39th (Tuesday) in the first three stages respectively, Woods is only 21 seconds behind leader and Canadian Benjamin Perry of WiV SunGod and 14 seconds back of runner-up and Israel-Premier Tech teammate Corbin Strong.
At the Canadian track cycling championships in Milton, ON., Victoria’s Erin Attwell of the Ottawa-based Cyclery Racing team had a six-medal performance on the oval.
Attwell, Cyclery Racing teammates Devaney Collier and Annie Scott, both of Edmonton, and Maggie Coles-Lyster of DNA Pro Cycling and Maple Ridge, B.C., won the women’s team pursuit.
In the women’s team sprint final, Attwell, Collier and Coles-Lyster placed second. Attwell also was runner-up in the Madison race with Lily Plante.
Attwell scored her other three medals in the Omni, placing second in the scratch race, third in the points race and overall, fourth in the tempo race and fifth in the elimination race.
OTTAWA, QUEEN’S GO ON WOMEN’S RUGBY SCORING SPREE
The opening weekend of the U Sports women’s rugby season saw a couple of high-scoring matches.
University of Ottawa Gee-Gees rolled over Concordia University Stingers 59-6 in the RSEQ as Ketsia Kamba scored a game-high three tries. Single tries went to Mercedes Cole, Claire Gallagher, Talia Hennessy, Julia Latremouille and Mikayla Sweeting.
Gallagher converted all eight tries and finished the game with 21 points.
“This is the most prepared we’ve ever been for our first game and it showed at the start,” said Gee-Gees head coach Jen Boyd, who has been training the team since June.
Queen’s University Gaels shut out host York University Lions 105-0 in the OUA for the team’s most lopsided win since a 135-0 decision over the University of Western Mustangs in 2019.
Maddy Kushner, Rachel Cullum and Mika Matsukubo, all of Ottawa, scored one try each for the Gaels.
EMILY DESCHENES’ RINK REACHES SEMIFINALS
Ottawa’s Emily Deschênes, who now curls out of Chester, N.S., lost 8-2 to Skylar Ackerman of Saskatoon in the women’s semifinals of the U25 NextGen Classic in Edmonton.
The Deschênes rink of third Lauren Ferguson, second Alison Umlah and lead Cate Fitzgerald finished the round-robin at 3-2.
At the Curling Stadium Martensville International in Martensville, SK., the Chelsea Carey rink of third Jolene Campbell, second Liz Fyfe and lead Rachel Erickson tied for fifth place in pool play at 3-2, won its quarterfinal 7-4 over Nancy Martin of Saskatoon, but lost its semi-final to Silvana Tirinzoni of Aarau, Switzerland, 10-3.
Manotick’s Jamie Sinclair, a former international player for the United States, attended the opening weekend of Carey’s curling season and is serving as the team’s super spare.
BRIEFLY, BUT STILL IMPORTANT
Syracuse University’s Kevin Robertson of the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club won the Harry H. Lang cross-country invitational men’s 6.4-kilometre race for the second straight year. … Ottawa’s Lois Betteridge was 21st in extreme slalom and 27th in women’s canoe at the World Cup slalom competition in La Seu, Spain. … Alexander Woodford of Ottawa and Ride with Rendall placed 65th in the men’s junior Cross-Country Olympic race at the world mountain bike championships in Les Gets, France. He finished nine minutes and 24 seconds behind winner Paul Schehl of Germany (1:02:48).
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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