By Martin Cleary
The 2023 Santiago Pan-American Games are zipping right along.
But everything came to a screeching halt on Wednesday for the Ottawa and area athletes as not a single individual was scheduled for a heat, a crucial preliminary game or a medal match.
Rest days are good days, too.
For some of the Ottawa and area athletes, the Games have come to an end, like swimmer Julie Brousseau, diver Kate Miller, artistic gymnast Frederique Sgarbossa and shooter Lynda Kiejko.
Brousseau, who competes for the Nepean-Kanata Barracudas Swim Club, used her four days in the pool extremely well, winning two gold and one bronze medals as well as setting one personal-best time.
Miller, a member of the Nepean Ottawa Diving Club, only competed in the women’s 10-metre platform synchro final, but was the silver medallist with Caeli McKay.
Sgarbossa, who trains at Unigym Gatineau, helped Canada win the bronze medal in the women’s artistic gymnastics team event.
Calgary shooter Lynda Kiejko, who was born in Winchester, ON., focused solely on the women’s 25-metre pistol event in her third Pan-Am Games and finished a disappointing 14th overall. She was a double gold medallist at the 2015 Toronto Pan-Am Games.
While modern pentathlete Robert Bonomo, a former University of Ottawa swimmer from Toronto, is nearing the end of his first multi-sport Games, there’s another 23 athletes from the region anxious to put their skills to the ultimate continental test.
Here’s what’s coming up for the rest of this week and a look ahead at when the remaining Ottawa and area athletes will be called into action.
The Canadian women’s team will open its Group B round-robin on Thursday with an afternoon game against Cuba. Midfielder Kenzie Girgis of Ottawa and goalkeeper Rowan Harris of Ottawa will be on the Canadian roster.
A member of both the national women’s junior and senior teams, Girgis, a second-year student-athlete at the University of British Columbia, earned her first two senior caps recently in official games against the United States. Harris has represented Canada in 60 international matches and helped UBC win CIS university championships in 2014 and 2015.
Canada also will play Chile on Saturday and Mexico on Monday.
The Ottawa River Runners’ Maël Rivard, who reached the men’s K-1 semifinals at the world U23 canoe championships, will go to the start line Friday for his men’s kayak cross time trial and quarterfinal races with hopes of reaching Sunday’s semifinals and medal round. On Saturday, he’s scheduled to have two rounds of K-1 whitewater racing and is aiming to chase a medal on Sunday.
Clubmate Lois Betteridge, a multiple national champion, will tackle the women’s kayak cross time trial and quarterfinal on Friday and the women’s C-1 heats on Saturday. If all goes well, she could have semifinal and medal races on Sunday.
Bonomo, who swam for the University of Ottawa from 2012-17 and won four U Sports championship bronze medals and 15 OUA medals, finished 22nd in the individual men’s competition. He’s scheduled to complete his first multi-sport Games on Friday in the men’s relay with Canadian teammate Dan Schulz.
Rebecca Heller of Dunrobin, ON., will take to the water on Saturday to begin five days of racing in the women’s windsurfing IQFoil class. Heller, who raced this summer at the world championships, also will have a series of races on Sunday, Tuesday, Nov. 2 and Nov. 3.
The top finisher among North America and Caribbean athletes will qualify their country for the 2024 Olympics.
WEEK 2 TEAM
The Pan-Am Games will move into their second and final week on Sunday, with the remaining members of Ottawa’s 28-athlete contingent set for action. Here’s a sport-by-sport rundown.
Running from Nov. 1-5, Eric Peters of Ottawa will be targeting the men’s individual, men’s team and mixed team competitions in the recurve discipline. Peters recently made Canadian archery history by being the first man to win a medal (silver) in the individual recurve competition at the world championships, which gave Canada a 2024 Paris Olympic berth. Canadians can clinch another Olympic quota spot with a top-two finish.
Oct. 31 may be Halloween here, but for the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club’s Keira Christie-Galloway it’s the day to run her women’s 100-metre hurdles semifinal. A quick time and solid placing will put her in the final on Nov. 1.
The Lions’ Stephen Evans must wait until the end of the Games before he can test himself against some of the best middle-distance runners in North, Central and South America. He will run his 800-metre semifinal on Nov. 3 and is planning to be in the Nov. 4 final.
Rideau Canoe Club’s Madeline Schmidt, Natalie Davison and Toshka Besharah-Hrebacka will concentrate on the women’s kayak heat races on Nov. 1-2. The medal finals on Nov. 3-4.
Sophia Jensen of the Cascades Canoe Club will have the same schedule, but only in women’s canoe racing.
Amy Millar of Perth, ON., and Wellington, Florida, will be riding Truman in the individual and team competitions.
The individual and team qualifying rounds will be staged Oct. 31. The first and second rounds of the individual jumping are Nov. 1, which also will serve as the team competition. The medal-winning teams will also secure 2024 Olympic berths.
On Nov. 3, the final two rounds of the individual jumping will determine the medal winners.
Lily-Rose Nolet of Gatineau needed a trip to Costa Rica to try to make the Canadian team at a Last Chance Qualifier and it was beneficial. Nolet will aim for the top on Nov. 3 in the women’s 68-kilogram kumite class at the Pan-Am Games.
Gatineau’s Hana Furumoto-Deshaies, who won the North American Cup and was second at the 2023 Pan-American senior championships, will compete in the women’s -55-kilogram kumite class on Nov. 4.
The Canadian women’s team will play three games on Nov. 3 against Chile, Mexico and Brazil. Ottawa’s Olivia De Couvreur will be in the mix for the fast-paced and high-scoring games over a short time frame.
The national men’s team will include Ottawa’s Elias Hancock for round-robin games Nov. 3 against Brazil, Mexico and the United States.
In both cases, the semifinals and medal matches are Nov. 4.
Nepean native Lina Augaitis of Coldstream, B.C. competes on the final day of surfing, when she enters the women’s SUP race on Monday. Augaitis was a two-time gold-medallist and double silver-medal winner during the 2014-16 world championships in stand-up paddleboarding.
Former Ottawa athlete Eugene Wang of Aurora, ON., wants to defend Canada’s mixed doubles title with Mo Zhang. If they reach the final, the country is assured a quota spot for the 2024 Paris Summer Olympic Games.
Wang and Zhang are aiming to play their preliminary mixed doubles matches and quarterfinal on Sunday with hopes of reaching Monday’s semifinals and final.
Wang will also try to upgrade his Pan-Am Games medal ranking in men’s singles, after winning bronze at the 2015 Toronto and 2019 Lima Games. He’ll begin singles play Tuesday and the semifinals and final are Nov. 1.
Bogdan Djerkovic of Ottawa and Aleksa Gardijan of Gatineau will play for Canada in three men’s round-robin games – Monday against Chile, Tuesday against Cuba and Nov. 1 against Argentina.
Jessica Gaudreault and Floranne Carroll, both past Capital Wave Water Polo Club players, are on the women’s national team roster for matches against Argentina on Monday, Cuba on Tuesday and Mexico on Nov. 1.
For both men and women, the quarterfinals are scheduled for Nov. 2 and will be followed by the semifinals Nov. 3 and the finals Nov. 4. The winners will claim tickets to Paris.
OTTAWA TABLE TENNIS PLAYER’S GOLDEN RECORD FALLS
Ottawa’s Lijuan Geng had her shared Canadian record of four gold medals won at a single Pan-Am Games broken Wednesday night when London swimmer Maggie Mac Neil collected her fifth title in the water.
Geng, who is retired and now runs the Geng Table Tennis Academy in Nepean, swept all four table tennis gold medals on offer at the 1995 Mar del Plata Pan-Am Games in Argentina.
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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