Abbotsford athletes medal in PanAm water polo

Martel, Aikema and Utas excel in Jamaica at Youth Pan American Games

A trio of Abbotsford water polo stars are back from Jamaica with some hardware.

Athletes Eric Martel, Emily Aikema and Brianna Utas all medalled at the Youth Pan American water polo championships in Jamaica, which wrapped up on Sept. 12.

Martel won bronze on the Team Canada boys team and potted 14 goals over the tournament that ran for eight days. The boys team lost in the semi-final to Brazil but then bounced back to defeat Puerto Rico 14-10 to finish third. The win also earns the team a spot at the world championships next year.

Aikema and Utas, both playing on the Team Canada girls team, earned silver at the tournament, and Aikema scored 12 goals. Utas manned the defensive end of the pool and helped shut down the opposition.

The girls team lost 25-6 to the United States early in the tournament and then the two teams eventually squared off again in the final. Canada put up much more of a fight in the second match, pulling to within one goal with one minute to go, but the Americans scored late to win 8-6. The girls earned silver medals in the loss and also a spot at the world championships next year.

The trio of athletes hope to secure a spot on the world championships teams, but in the meantime return to local pools with the Fraser Valley Water Polo Club. Martel hits the water with the Valley U19 men’s team coached by 2008 Olympian Kevin Mitchell as they seek a national championship in May.

Utas joins Aikema on the Valley U19, after winning a national championship with the Valley U16 team last year. Justin Mitchell, named most valuable coach at the national championships last year, returns as head coach for 2015-16.

For more information on the club, visit fraservalleywaterpolo.com.