Day 15 Recap: Durvishan Thananchayan earns gold, sweet redemption in archery team event
By Dan Plouffe
If you were to picture an athlete winning the championship, you might expect them to have their arms raised high to the sky, probably yelling out in celebration.
Kanata’s Durvishan Thananchayan did none of that yesterday the moment he became a Canada Games archery champion. That’s because everyone knew that he’d won the recurve mixed team competition but him.
“If my opponent was shooting, I’d direct my gaze somewhere else, so I really didn’t know what (score) my opponent was shooting,” explains Thananchayan. “It was only when I finished my final shot that everyone started cheering and everything. That’s when I looked up at the opponent’s circuit and then fortunately I saw that we won.
“I didn’t want to mess up my shot due to thinking about the end result, like I did [Friday].”
On Friday, Thananchayan was involved in an intense head-to-head quarter-final elimination match in the individual male recurve competition. The RA Centre/South Nation Archery Supply athlete was the favourite in the contest, having qualified third while his opponent from Prince Edward Island was ranked sixth.
Facing off with an archer from the host province in Charlottetown “kind of got to me,” Thananchayan recounts. “Whenever they’d shoot a really good shot, you’d hear a lot of cheering, and sometimes that gets to you because you think to yourself, ‘Oh, you need to match that result.’ So it’s important to be able to tune out the background noise as well.
“I have done outdoor matchplay, but this was really a different environment. There’s crowds, everyone’s cheering, you’re on live cameras and everything, so I guess I learned a lot from my experience [Friday] where I wasn’t really able to concentrate on my form and everything.”
After 10 rounds, Thananchayan and his opponent were tied 5-5, so the winner was decided in a shootout where each archer shoots one arrow and whoever is closer to centre wins.
“That was really something. I was pretty nervous,” signals Thananchayan, who’d never before faced such a scenario with everything on the line.
He went first and shot a solid 9, but his opponent managed to hit even closer to the bullseye.
“Another mistake I made [Friday] was I kept thinking if I mess up, one error, there’s no going back or anything. You have to be able to move on from that type of thinking and instead maybe set a personal goal for yourself or something. So even if you don’t get the result, you still met your personal goal,” indicates the first-year Carleton University computer science student. “I was pretty disappointed with [Friday’s] results. But I’m happy that I was able to learn from it and not make the same mistake twice.”
For his first-ever mixed team competition, Thananchayan joined forces with Peterborough’s Amelia Gagné, who’s experienced a similar letdown in her individual female quarter-finals after claiming the #2 qualifying position.
But the Ontario duo were unstoppable together. They took down Yukon 6-0 in the quarters, comfortably beat Alberta 6-2 in the semis and then skunked Manitoba 6-0 in the gold medal final.
“I wanted to redeem myself, because I’ve been training a long time for this. I wasn’t satisfied with [Friday], so I really wanted to end on a high note,” reflects Thananchayan. “Amelia’s a really great shooter, and I really enjoyed being teammates with her. It went really well for us. I’m really happy.”
The next big target for the 2022 junior provincial outdoor champion will be looking towards the Canadian team trials for July’s world junior archery championships in Ireland. Thananchayan says the Canada Games have provided him with invaluable experience in that quest.
“I need to get more experiences similar to this, so that I will be able to adapt better and better each time, so that at one point I’ll be able to shoot my 100% in these circumstances,” highlights the Earl of March Secondary School grad. “I haven’t really had that many competitions like this yet. It’s really helped show me what the sport is – the environment, the way you interact with other players in the athletes’ village. It represents what it’s like to be a top level athlete. It was really great.”
Cross-country skiers ‘feeling pretty whipped’ amid busy competition schedule
Ottawa’s Robin Mason kept getting closer and closer to the podium at the 2023 Canada Winter Games, but the 19-year-old Nakkertok Nordic product had to settle for fourth place as his top result.
He achieved that yesterday alongside fellow Ottawa skier Antoine Gauthier in the 4×5 km mixed relay free competition, finishing one spot out of the medals in 48:31.3.
Mason brought Ontario through the first leg tied for the lead, while Gauthier completed the third leg within six seconds of the podium, but the team faded behind Quebec anchor and two-time individual gold medallist Tory Audet of Chelsea Nordiq, who opened a 53-second gap come the finish to claim bronze behind Alberta and champion B.C.
Featuring Ottawa skiers Addison Frank, Isaac Fortin and Helen McCulligh, the Ontario – B entry finished eighth in 50:22.3, while Ontario – C dropped out before Ottawa’s Clara Hegan could ski the anchor leg.
In the end, Ontario was shut out of the medals in all races in the male and female categories at the Canada Winter Games. A number of Ontario skiers had competed in the Ontario University Athletics championships in Huntsville the weekend before they headed to PEI, which took its toll on some of the athletes who pulled double duty.
“Honestly, none of these races went as well as I think they could had,” reports McCulligh, whose top individual result was 12th in the female 10 km mass start free race. “I had an amazing three days at OUAs, but it’s very quick turn-around time, so I’ve been pretty fatigued this whole week.”
After achieving a historic performance with her Carleton University Ravens women’s team, McCulligh drove back from Huntsville on Friday night, then flew to PEI Sunday and had her first of four races Tuesday.
Next, she will return home Monday evening from PEI before her Thursday morning flight to Thunder Bay for the Mar. 11-17 Canadian College and University Nordic Championships, held as part of Nordiq Canada’s nationals.
“A few more days at home will hopefully be nice,” says the Kanata Nordic athlete who may ski while she’s in town, but will prioritize rest.
McCulligh’s fellow Ravens skier Fortin has also been living out of a suitcase lately.
“I bring everything home Monday, take everything out, wash it, and then pack it back up and head off to nationals. It’s just an endless cycle,” smiles Fortin, who stuck with the lead pack for most of the male 15 km free mass start en route to a 17th-place finish. “We knew this 3- to 4-week block was going to be a little hectic, and something I hadn’t necessarily faced before. I’m definitely feeling pretty whipped right now.”
But getting to participate in “a super cool event” like the Canada Winter Games was an experience Fortin wasn’t about to trade despite the hurt to the legs.
“It’s a pretty sweet thing to be a part of,” underlines the Nakkertok Nordic athlete originally from Bridgenorth, ON. I’m really appreciative to have the opportunity to get to know these guys (on Team Ontario), and everyone they know from across the country.”
Fortin is now looking forward to seeing many of his new friends again for the national championships, where his Nakkertok Nordic club will be chasing its 12th consecutive overall title.
McCulligh is also eager to rejoin her Ravens for the nationals on the heels of their dominant performance at OUAs, where they achieved an unprecedented perfect placement score each day in the women’s team standings.
“That was super fun,” recalls McCulligh, an OUA individual bronze medallist in the 7.5-kilometre free and a relay silver medallist. “Everyone was super supportive, so it really felt like a team accomplishment. We’re all working together. We all have very similar goals and similar race seasons. Now I’m super pumped for nationals.”
Stunning defeat for Ontario in female hockey semi-final
- Ontario had outscored its opponents by 33 goals in 4 games.
- 9 of the tournament’s 13 top scorers were from Ontario.
- Ontario recorded 2 shutouts and a pair 1-goal games entering the match.
- 6-0 was the score the first time Ontario met Nova Scotia in the preliminary round.
And all those sublime stats weren’t worth a penny once the puck dropped, as Nova Scotia pulled off The Miracle at MacLauchlan (Arena) to end the Ontario female hockey team’s quest for gold on Saturday night in Charlottetown.
Ottawa’s Mackenzie Clarke assisted on the first goal and Ontario added another to take a 2-0 lead seven minutes into the game, but that was the last time they’d beat Nova Scotia goalie Rhyah Stewart despite launching 51 shots her way.
Nova Scotia scored once in the second period and twice more in the third to the delight of the Atlantic Canada crowd. The stats sheet doesn’t look kind to Ottawa goalie Naomi Baechler, with 3 goals allowed on just 13 shots, but it was more of a case of Nova Scotia making the most of its small selection of Grade A scoring opportunities.
Team Ontario won’t have long to lick their wounds since they’ve got to be back on the ice this morning at 10:30 a.m. ET to battle for bronze against Quebec back at MacLauchlan Arena. Nova Scotia will face B.C. in Summerside for gold.
That’ll be the final action involving Ottawa athletes at the 2023 Canada Winter Games, with the closing ceremonies to follow this evening at the Eastlink Centre.
Event livestreams are available at www.canadagames.ca/watch.
You can find links to schedules, and all of our Games coverage in one place, through our Ottawa at the Canada Winter Games central webpage:
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