By Martin Cleary
On Thursday night, the Nepean Sports Wall of Fame will welcome 12 new inductees, including a trio from diving – athlete Henry McKay, coach Fernando Henderson and builder Richard Fleming.
A few years down the road, that special ceremony will likely feature another diver, 18-year-old Kate Miller of the Nepean-Ottawa Diving Club, who was coached by Henderson.
And her class could include swimmer 17-year-old Julie Brousseau of the Nepean-Kanata Barracudas Swim Club.
While both aqua athletes have never met each other, the Nepean Sportsplex pool has been their home training base for many years and one of the reasons why they have emerged with medals during their Pan-American Games debut in Santiago, Chile.
On Monday night, Miller and partner Caeli McKay of Calgary posted five consistent, high-scoring dives to win the silver medal in the women’s 10-metre platform synchro final. There was no preliminary round and only a final for the five teams, which didn’t include a scratched team from the United States.
“I’m really thrilled and excited about this medal,” Miller, 18, told High Achievers in a phone interview. “It means a lot. It’s a great way to start the Olympic period.
“(A medal) was always our goal. You aim for the gold and see where you end up. You aim above and beyond and see where it goes.”
Miller and Caeli McKay posted the best competition marks for the first two dives – a reverse dive in the pike position and a forward pike dive. They struggled somewhat with their inward 3.5 somersault in the tuck position and were fourth.
But they finished strong with their two most difficult dives – winning the back 3.5 somersault tuck and finishing second in the back 2.5 somersault with a 1.5 twist in a pike position. They were in fourth place entering their fifth and final dive.
“Consistency was definitely the key. It’s what we have been working on. Hopefully, as the months go by we’ll be more consistent,” Miller added.
“We stayed calm and we stayed focused. We represented our country well.”
Mexico’s Gabriela Agundez and Alejandra Orozco won the gold medal with 315.42 points, while Miller and McKay were second at 310.29 points. Brazil’s Ingrid De Oliveira and Giovanna Pedroso were third at 273.60 points.
Miller had no idea Brousseau was attending the Pan-Am Games and had also won a medal. Their training paths have never crossed on the Nepean Sportsplex pool deck, but maybe they will in the Games’ Athletes Village.
“That’s extra cool,” Miller said enthusiastically about having another Nepean Sportsplex-based athlete be successful at the Games.
On Saturday, Brousseau won a gold medal, but she didn’t have to swim in the women’s 4×100-metre freestyle final.
Brousseau raced the anchor leg in the morning heat and that qualified Canada for the final, giving her a chance to win a medal, if her team placed in the top three.
Canada excelled in the final, placing first in three minutes, 37.75 seconds and defeated the silver-medal-winning United States, 3:38.42, and the bronze medallists from Brazil, 3:39.94.
Canadian team veteran Katerine Savard, who swam the anchor in the final after teammates Mary-Sophie Harvey, Brooklyn Douthwright and Maggie MacNeil, was thrilled to see preliminary swimmers Brousseau and Emma O’Croinin receive medals.
“It took six to make this relay with the two girls this morning and we all did an amazing job,” Savard said in a Swimming Canada press release.
In the Games’ first swimming final on Saturday, Brousseau finished fifth in the women’s 400-metre freestyle in a personal-best 4:11.32. That was 0.06 seconds faster than her time at the World Aquatics junior championships in early September.
Brousseau, 17, won her morning heat and was the sixth fastest overall in 4:15.54.
“I didn’t find out until yesterday (Friday) that I’d be swimming, so it has been a pretty busy day, but I’m just super happy about the chance to do this race,” said Brousseau, who won seven medals at the world junior championships.
On Tuesday, she will have the top seed time entering the women’s 400-metre individual medley.
“I have some time to rest and refocus up for the next one. It has been so fun so far and great to swim here with all these Canadians.”
Meanwhile in women’s artistic gymnastics, Gatineau’s Frederique Sgarbossa was part of the Canadian bronze-medal winning group in the team event.
Sgarbossa competed on two of the four apparatus. She was the third-ranked Canadian on the vault at 13.033 points and on the uneven bars at 12.100 points.
The United States won the women’s team event at 165.196 points, while Brazil took second at 161.564 points and the Canadian team of Aurelie Tran, Ava Stewart, Cassandra Lee, Sydney Turner and Sgarbossa finished third at 154.230 points.
Former University of Ottawa swimmer Robert Bonomo of Toronto placed 22nd in men’s modern pentathlon at his first multi-sport Games. He finished with 1,096 points for competitions in fencing, swimming and laser-run. He didn’t qualify to compete in the horse test.
Bonomo opened the multi-sport endurance test by placing 28th out of 31 athletes in the one-touch, round-robin fencing competition. He won eight of his 30 matches and added one other victory in a bonus round for 174 points.
He excelled in the 200-metre freestyle swim, placing second overall and earning 296 points. He also was 11th in the laser-run, a combined target shooting and running test, for 626 points.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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