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Ottawa @ CWG Day 5: Gold medal dreams come true for gymnast

(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 5 Recap: Gold medal dreams come true for Ottawa Gymnastics Centre athlete

By Mark Colley

When Cléante Théorêt was 10 or 11, she told her coach her goals. Her coach told her about an event, seven years down the road, that could be a good fit for what she had in mind.

That was the 2023 Canada Winter Games.

“I was so young and it was in 2016 — I couldn’t even imagine 2023,” Théorêt reflected.

She certainly didn’t imagine what would happen on Tuesday, when Théorêt won gold with Ontario in the artistic gymnastics team event. It was the first gold of the Games for an Ottawa athlete and a dream come true for Théorêt.

The Grade 11 Franco-Cité high school student could have chosen to instead compete at the California Grand Invitational in Anaheim, California, which she qualified for in November. While the dates didn’t overlap, Gymnastics Ontario asked athletes selected for both to pick one or the other.

“Obviously I would’ve loved to go to California – I bet their weather’s a lot better,” Théorêt smiled. “[But] it wasn’t much of a decision.”

How could it be? After dreaming of the 2023 Games for so long, it would be hard to pass such an opportunity up.

Théorêt knew she would have to choose before she tried out for both teams, and even her coaches at the Ottawa Gymnastics Centre understood which one she would pick. She recalled a moment when she asked who was going to California with her, only for her coaches to remind her of which competition she would select.

And if she could go back and tell her 2016 self what she had accomplished now, with a gold medal around her neck, “I’d probably cry.”

“There’s no way I’d ever believe that,” Théorêt said. “I can’t believe I’m even here.”

Cléante Théorêt (left) and Team Ontario celebrate winning gold. Photo: Corinne Bosch / Canada Winter Games

Team Ontario had podium training two days prior to the Tuesday meet, when they trained on the Canada Games equipment. And while they felt confident afterwards, they “didn’t know how good the other teams were.”

Then came Tuesday and the gold medal moment when Ontario scored a team total of 148.395 to edge Quebec at 147.262. Théorêt was the lone member of the six-athlete team to record top-four scores (which count towards the team’s total) on all four apparatuses. Her top scores were on vault and floor – the key events in which Ontario built its advantage over their provincial neighbours.

“I don’t like to set really high expectations for myself. I kinda taught myself, whatever happens, it’s okay. You’re here for fun,” Théorêt explained. “So when that happened, I was really surprised and so excited.”

Cléante Théorêt. Photo: Corinne Bosch / Canada Winter Games

Théorêt is making the most of her time in P.E.I., watching other sports like wheelchair basketball in her down time.

“The experience has been amazing — not only the break from school and real life, but travelling,” she said of the experience seven years in the making.

Birthday boy blows away the competition

Freestyle skier Matthew Lepine has been walking in bigger footsteps his entire life.

He started skiing at age two and followed his two older brothers into the Fortune Freestyle program in Chelsea, Que., at age eight.

Last season, Lepine was the youngest skier in the field when he made his Nor-Am Cup debut, and he was the youngest again when he placed 20th out of 44 at a January Nor-Am slopestyle event in Calgary.

At the Canada Games, Lepine continued that streak as the most junior athlete entered in male freestyle skiing events. He celebrated his 15th birthday Tuesday on the hill, competing in big air and slopestyle — “probably the funnest place to be on your birthday,” he underlined. On Wednesday, he finished ninth in the slopestyle final.

Matthew Lepine lands a big air jump. Photo: Paul McLeod / Canada Winter Games

But despite the big age difference between himself and some of his competitors, he said he’s not intimidated.

“The environment’s really inclusive. Everyone’s friends with each other,” Lepine signalled. “Some of the athletes still have more mileage and more years of training under their belts than me, but I still go out and try to do my best.”

He did so on Wednesday. After events earlier in the week were postponed due to poor conditions, the weather gods delivered a clear blue sky – one of the nicer days of the week, Lepine noted.

While he fell off the first and third rails early in his first run, and early on the second in his second run, he beat out the majority of his competition in the 24-athlete event.

“It’s like a big privilege [to compete against older athletes],” Lepine said. “It’s showing that I am capable of competing with higher skilled athletes.”

Other action: Shaheen keeps on rolling

Iman Shaheen. Photo: Philip Matusiewicz / Canada Winter Games

After becoming Ottawa’s first medal winner with a bronze in squash on Tuesday, Iman Shaheen kept the good times going in the team competition. She beat P.E.I’s Evelyn Peacock 11-0, 11-1 and 11-3 to help Ontario to a smooth 4-0 win, their first in preliminary action.

Shaheen will be in action again today with an 8 a.m. ET match against Newfoundland and Labrador. A win would ensure Ontario’s position atop the pool standings.

In ringette, Team Ontario just keeps on winning. They beat British Columbia 5-1 to end pool play with a perfect 4-0 record. Julia Wilson of the Gloucester Cumberland Ringette Association scored three goals and chipped in two assists, while Taylor Forrest had a goal and three assists.

Brielle Durham of the Gloucester Concordes skated well in the female 500-metre long track speed skating final, finishing sixth. Daria Vogt and Rachel Mallard came in 15th and 16th, respectively.

The trio of lifelong friends competed together in the team pursuit, where Ontario finished fifth out of eight teams.

Alexander Don finished seventh in the individual male trampoline event, while Des O’Shaughnessy and Team Ontario wheelchair basketball remained winless with a 69-35 loss to Manitoba.

Ottawa’s Team Acres lost 9-3 to Saskatchewan in curling. The RCMP Curling Club rink is now 2-2 and will face fellow 2-2 squad B.C. this morning at 9 a.m. ET to determine which team will advance to the quarter-final round.

Day 6 Preview: Ringette, hockey begin quarterfinals

You would be forgiven if you looked at the Ontario ringette team and believed it was an all-Ottawa squad, because it almost is. Ten players on the 18-athlete roster are from the capital region.

They’ve been tearing up the competition so far, outsourcing their opponents by 17 goals in their first four games. Alongside Alberta, they are the only undefeated team at the tournament.

Today, Ontario will begin the playoffs with a 6:30 p.m. ET match against either Nova Scotia or Quebec, who will play each other at 9 a.m. to determine who moves on.

Tristan Boudreau. Photo: Valerie Sevilla / Canada Winter Games

Ontario’s male hockey team, which features six Hockey Eastern Ontario players, also sweeps into the quarterfinals after finishing atop their preliminary group at 2-0-1. Their 3 p.m. game will be against New Brunswick.

Ottawa biathlon athletes will also be in action. Rachel Lambley and Ella Niedre will competing in the female 10 kilometre race, while Antoine Gendron and William Ng will be doing the same in the male 12.5 kilometre event.

In speed skating, Durham, Mallard and Vogt will try their hands at long distance in the 3,000 metre final at 12:10 p.m. Matthew Freitag will race in the final rounds of the male 500 metres short track event, and the preliminary heat of the 1,000.

Team Acres needs a win in their 9 a.m. ET match against British Columbia to move on to the afternoon female curling quarterfinals.

And Théorêt will be back in action for the artistic gymnastics female all-around competition at 3 p.m. ET.

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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