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Ottawa @ CWG Day 4: Iman Shaheen brings home first Ottawa medal

(This article was first sent to subscribers of the free Ottawa at the Canada Winter Games Daily Newsletter. Sign up to receive it below!)

Day 4 Recap: Iman Shaheen brings home first Ottawa medal

By Mark Colley

Ottawa athletes landed on the podium twice on the second day medals were awarded at the PEI 2023 Canada Winter Games, with gymnast Cléante Théorêt earning team gold and squash player Iman Shaheen breaking the ice with bronze.

Seventeen-year-old Shaheen won her medal in the female individual squash event, taking down Alberta’s Madison Laine 11-3, 12-10 and 11-9 in the bronze medal match. After competing in the 2019 Games in Red Deer, Alta. as a 13-year-old but missing out on medals, Shaheen broke through this time around.

“It was a great match overall — [Laine is] a great player to play against and it was nice to play a competitive match against someone like that,” said Shaheen, who won two matches Monday before falling in the semi-finals. “It’s not just for myself. It’s nice because I won that medal for Ontario as well.”

Before the Games, the former John McCrae Secondary School student said she wanted to measure her success not by medals but simply whether she played well or not. After winning bronze, she confirmed that.

“I’ve been pretty happy with the way I’ve played,” Shaheen explained. “There’s some more improvement that I’d like to make but I do feel like I’m getting better at measuring my success based on my improvement instead of results.”

Iman Shaheen. Photo: Philip Matusiewicz / Canada Winter Games

Shaheen said she was “tiny” when she competed at the 2019 Games. She remembers the competition being so much older and better. She said she was awestruck.

Now, the experience is much different.

“When I was younger, it was more like, ‘Oh my god, this is so cool!’” she shared. “It’s more important to me now, I guess. But to be honest, the Canada Winter Games in 2019 feels so long ago. I can’t remember much.”

With one medal in the bag, Shaheen isn’t done at the Games. She’ll be competing with Ontario in the team competition, which starts today.

Shaheen has known some of the athletes on her team since she was 10 or 11.

“They’re awesome. I’m good friends with all of them,” she said.

Despite her accomplishments so far, Shaheen’s Winter Games bucket list isn’t complete yet. She hasn’t been able to watch any other sports but really wants to take in gymnastics before the week is through.

Even on the second time around, Shaheen is trying to make the most of her experience.

Ottawa trio fights conditions at long track oval

When warm weather and rain forced the postponement of events on Monday, it also threw a wrench in the plans of local long-track speed skaters Brielle Durham, Rachel Mallard and Daria Vogt, whose practice was cancelled.

The ramifications were still felt yesterday, when the trio competed in the female 1,500 metres final. Mallard finished seventh, with Durham coming in 11th and Vogt 21st. But the real challenge was the quality of the ice and what it meant for racing.

“You can’t really glide on this type of ice,” Durham said. “It’s about really, keep pushing and … you’re in a constant state of work.”

Normally, on straightaways, speed skaters can glide for a portion of time. But on ice like that at the Halifax oval for the Winter Games, Durham and others had to constantly push.

“It definitely takes up a bit more energy,” explained the Brewer Park-based athlete who is no stranger to outdoor skating conditions. “You’re not really … having that period where you’re regrouping. It’s just go, go, go the whole straightaway.”

Brielle Durham races the female 1,500 metres. Photo: Laszlo Podor / Canada Winter Games

Regardless, Durham said she was pleased with how she skated.

She first took up skating after seeing two of her mom’s cousins compete in short-track. While Durham started in short-track, she switched over to long-track after five years and a concussion.

Durham grew up alongside Mallard and Vogt, competing against the others and even making life decisions together. Last year, the group moved together to Calgary to study at the University of Calgary and train at the Olympic Oval there as part of the Elite Athlete Pathway program.

They’ll have the chance to skate together in the team pursuit today at 12:50 p.m. E.T.

“Now that we’re training together and now being able to compete on a team together for the team pursuit, it’s really an amazing feeling,” Durham said.

Team gymnastics gold for Cléante Théorêt

While the weather gods wreaked havoc on outdoor winter sports, the cyber gremlins took aim at bringing the Games down in another way. The Canada Games’ online results platform crashed part way through the day, and though it came back to life in the wee hours, many of the results posted were incomplete.

So, the Ottawa Sports Pages was a little late learning the news of Ottawa’s first gold medal win of the Games, which came from Cléante Théorêt in the female artistic gymnastics team competition.

We hope to catch up with Théorêt and tell you some more soon enough. A Canada Games gold medal stands as the Ottawa Gymnastics Centre athlete’s reward for choosing a trip to PEI in winter over California.

The Ottawa Sports Pages featured Théorêt in December shortly after she’d qualified to represent Ontario at a tour competition to California.

But the Ottawa Gymnastics Centre athlete was also part way going through the qualification process for Ontario’s Canada Games team, and she wound up earning a berth for that team too.

Cléante Théorêt. File photo

Though the competition dates didn’t overlap, Gymnastics Ontario asked athletes who were selected for both teams to choose one over the other, and Théorêt picked the national multi-sport event over a trip to the sun.

The Franco-Cité high school student spends 25 hours a week working on her own gymnastics skills, but she also excels in a team environment – “a ray of sunshine” is what her coach Mélanie Major called her in the December Sports Pages story by Mark Colley.

In other action, the Ottawa-powered Ontario ringette team remained undefeated with an 8-5 win over the host P.E.I. team, running their win streak to three as they gear up for the quarterfinals, which start Thursday.

Ontario also took a 9-3 win over Nova Scotia in men’s hockey, bouncing back from a 3-2 overtime loss to Alberta on Monday. Game stats were unavailable. Team Ontario, which features six Hockey Eastern Ontario players, leapt to the top of the Pool B standings to earn a favourable quarter-final match on Thursday.

Des O’Shaughnessy and Team Ontario took their second loss of the Games in wheelchair basketball to British Columbia, dropping this matchup 72-36. But O’Shaughnessy said Monday that winning isn’t everything – seeing the progress Ontario has made over the last eight months is a victory in itself.

The Ava Acres RCMP Curling Club rink scored three in the seventh end en route to a 6-4 victory over Quebec to improve to 2-1 in the female curling competition.

Biathlete Ella Niedre came within one step of the podium in the female 7.5 km pursuit event, placing fourth in a time of 31:01.5, while Rachel Lambley finished 22nd. Fellow Chelsea Nordiq athletes Antoine Gendron and Will Ng placed one after the other in the male 10 km pursuit, in 15th and 16th.

Matthew Lepine snuck into the freestyle skiing male big air event final with the 12th and final qualification position. The final was scheduled for last night, though results were unavailable. The youngest athlete in the male freestyle skiing competition at age 15, Lepine also qualified for today’s slopestyle final in fifth position.

Day 5 Preview: Ringette readies for playoff round

Team Ontario ringette. Photo: @teamontarioringette_cwg2023 Instagram

The Ontario ringette team entered the Games with high hopes. After winning silver in the last two Winter Games and four straight gold before that, the Ottawa-led squad is looking to get back on the podium.

They’ve shown their talent in the first three games of preliminary action and will be looking to close out the opening round with a perfect record when they face British Columbia today at 4:30 p.m. ET.

The Ottawa-based Team Acres curling squad will also be on the ice at 1 p.m. ET. And at 11 a.m., O’Shaughnessy and Ontario’s wheelchair basketball team will look for their first win against Manitoba.

Lepine will compete in the male freestle skiing slopestyle final, Alexander Don will flip into the male individual trampoline event, Shaheen begins play in the squash female team tournament, and Ottawa’s long-track speed skating trio will race in the team pursuit as well as the female 500 metres.

Event livestreams are available at

Our Ottawa at the Canada Winter Games central webpage has links to all the schedules, and all of our Games coverage, in one place:

(This article was first sent to subscribers of the free Ottawa at the Canada Winter Games Daily Newsletter. Sign up to receive it below!)

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