By Martin Cleary
The world is spinning fast these days for Ottawa River Canoe Club’s Brianna Hennessy and Cascades Canoe Club’s Sophia Jensen.
One minute they’re in Duisburg, Germany, at the world canoe and paracanoe sprint championships and the next minute they’re in Paris for a World Cup and Olympic/Paralympic test event for the 2024 Summer Games.
Let’s slow everything down a notch or two to review their outstanding world championships and then look ahead to what’s happening on Wednesday and Thursday.
A day after winning the silver medal in the women’s para VL2 200-metre canoe single final, Hennessy picked up her kayak paddle and earned the bronze medal in the KL1 200-metre final.
Maryna Mazhula of Ukraine was first in 51.824 seconds and Katherine Wollermann of Chile was second in 53.571 seconds, while Hennessy took third in 53.800 seconds.
Positioned at the bow of the boat, Jensen set the pace for the Canadian team of Sloan Mackenzie, Jacy Grant and Julia Lilley Osende to win the bronze medal in the women’s C4 500-metre final.
China led the nine-boat field in 1:47.186, while Germany finished second at 1:47.780 and Canada was third in 1:48.143.
Rideau Canoe Club kayakers also had a world championship to remember as Maddy Schmidt added a silver medal to her Unified 200-metre gold with Rachel Cohen and Toshka Besharah-Hrebacka was less than two-tenths of a second off a bronze medal.
Schmidt captured the silver medal in the women’s K1 5,000 metres in 22:46.612, which left her only 1.26 seconds behind champion Estefania Fernandez of Spain. Fernandez stopped in 22:45.357, while Sweden’s Melina Andersson was third in 22:56.996.
After recording an impressive semifinal win, Besharah-Hrebacka went all out in the women’s K1 200-metre sprint final and placed fourth in 40.561 seconds. Women’s kayak icon Lisa Carrington of New Zealand won at 38.932 seconds, while Yale Steinepreis of Australia was second at 40.010 seconds and Dominika Putto of Poland claimed third at 40.367 seconds.
The world championships were a memorable event for Jensen not only personally, but also from a sport discipline point of view.
“That was super awesome. It was a crazy tough race,” Jensen recalled about Canada’s bronze-medal effort in the C4 500 metres during an interview with High Achievers. “Honestly, it was a super tough race. The wind was not in our favour. I’m happy for all the crews.
“My role was to keep the pace and never give up. I set the pace for the whole race. The plan was to leave nothing out there, go as hard as we could and be satisfied.”
Jensen set a personal-best time of 45.51 seconds to win her women’s C1 200-metre semifinal and beat a pair of high-profile sprinters, but the final didn’t produce a similar result. She placed sixth in the women’s in 46.494 seconds, but Jensen did qualify Canada a quota spot in that race for the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics.
“I’ve never raced the C1 200 before. It was a big deal for me,” Jensen said about the final. “I was nervous and it stressed me out a lot. I look forward to this race next year and going for a medal.”
Overall, Jensen was equally thrilled to see the development of women’s canoe at the world championships. Only three Canadians will compete in women’s canoe at the 2024 Paris Olympics as there are only two races – C1 200 metres and C2 500 metres.
She would like to see the C4 500-metre race added to the Olympic program, but knows it’s going to take time.
“It was special to know we had the biggest number (10) of C4 women’s boats at the worlds. This is a huge milestone for women’s canoeing,” she added.
In the women’s K2 500 metres, Courtney Stott and Schmidt placed seventh in the B final in 1:44.876 for 16th overall. It was a blanket finish for places second through seventh as only 0.288 seconds separated the boats.
Stott and Schmidt needed to finish in the top three in their semifinal to qualify for the A final, but they were fourth and only 0.836 seconds out of third place.
At this week’s Paris World Cup and pre-Olympic and pre-Paralympic test event, Hennessy will race the women’s VL2 200-metre canoe race on Wednesday and the KL1 200-metre kayak race on Thursday.
Jensen also will have a pair of races, teaming with long-time partner Lilley Osende for the women’s C2 500 metres on Wednesday and going solo in the C1 200 metres on Thursday.
GEE-GEES WIN OUA FOOTBALL OPENER WITH BALANCED APPROACH
Running back Amlicar Polk dashed for 142 yards on 22 carries and sparked the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees to a 29-10 win over the University of Waterloo Warriors in their OUA football home opener.
His longest run of 46 yards produced the Gee-Gees’ second touchdown in the first quarter. Quarterback Ben Maracle connected with Maxim Malenfant for a 16-yard touchdown before leaving the game with a lower body injury.
“It feels great, especially as a team coming together. We had lots of ups and downs, but I applaud the team for sticking together and treating every play like it’s our last,” Polk said.
“Especially on defence, they kept us in the game. They were on the field a lot today, so big kudos to them.”
Maracle, who completed all four of his pass attempts for 33 yards, was replaced by Ryan Licandro, who was good on 12 of 25 passes for 133 yards and one interception.
Malenfant caught seven passes for 55 yards, while Noah Avery gained 50 yards off three receptions.
The defence was strong as Max Charbonneau notched seven tackles, four assisted tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a blocked punt. Patrick Cumberbatch turned an interception into a 22-yard return for a touchdown. Anas Faid added five tackles and one assisted tackle.
The Gee-Gees will play on the road Sunday night against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, while the Carleton University Ravens will open their season visiting the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks in an afternoon game.
CANADIAN WOMEN 4TH AT IBSA WORLD GAMES GOALBALL EVENT
Ottawa’s Whitney Bogart, Amy Burk and Emma Reinke powered Canada to an encouraging fourth-place finish at a global goalball competition one year outside of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.
Competing at the Aug. 20-27 International Blind Sports Federation World Games in Coventry, UK, Canada beat USA, Germany, Finland and Ukraine and lost to Brazil en route to a 4-1 record in group play.
The Canadians then downed Israel 6-3 in the quarter-finals before falling 6-1 to champion China in the semis and 2-0 to Brazil in the bronze medal match.
The local trio competed for Canada at the Tokyo Paralympics, placing ninth.
UNDEFEATED INGLIS RINK WINS SUMMER SERIES CURLING OPENER
Danielle Inglis of Ottawa was undefeated in six matches to secure the Summer Series curling event in Saguenay, PQ.
After winning her pool at 4-0, Inglis, third Kira Brunton, second Calissa Daly and lead Cassandra de Groot defeated Lauren Horton of Montreal 8-7 in the semifinals and Christina Black of Halifax 5-4 in the final. Inglis used the hammer in the eighth end to score one to capture first place.
Montreal’s Laurie St-Georges, who has Jamie Sinclair of Osgoode, ON., at third, lost to Black 7-3 in the semifinals, and former Arnprior Curling Club skip Lauren Mann of Timmins reached the quarterfinals before bowing to Black 5-3.
At the Icebreaker Challenge in Morris, MB., Kristy Watling of Winnipeg lost 6-0 in three ends to Kate Camerson of Winnipeg in the semifinals and Sarah Anderson of Minneapolis, Minnesota, 8-6 in the third-place match. Ottawa’s Emily Deschênes is playing second for Watling this season.
LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST
· Ottawa-Nepean Diving Club’s Kate Miller has been named to Canada’s Pan American Games team with Caeli McKay in the women’s 10-metre synchro. Earlier this month, they won the silver medal at the Diving World Cup Super Final in Berlin.
· A pair of Gatineau athletes won gold at the Junior Pan American karate championships in Santiago and will return to Chile in 52 days to represent Canada at the Pan American Games. Megan Rouchette won gold in the women’s U21 kumite -55 kilograms, while Lily-Rose Nolet was the winner in the women’s U21 kumite +68 kilograms.
· Canada won its opening game at the CONCACAF women’s U17 soccer qualifier championship in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, blanking Dominica 21-0. The national roster has six players from Ottawa – Bianca Hanisch, Reece Kay, sisters Annabelle and Isabelle Chukwu, Mya Angus and Teegan Melenhorst. Annabelle Chukwu scored five goals against Dominica, and Isabelle Chukwu and Mya Angus added one apiece.
· Olympian Amy Millar of Perth had three top-10 results at the Major League Show Jumping Ottawa tournament at Wesley Clover Parks. The tournament featured a high level of international talent and more than $800,000 in prize money. Riding Truman, Millar was fifth in the $142,500 Steel-Craft Door Products Ltd. event and eighth in the $225,000 Grand Prix. She also was 10th in the Whalesbone Group Grand Prix on GCS Athena.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 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 High Achievers “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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