Sports Minister Bal Gosa

Sports Minister Bal Gosa

Canada gunning for top-3 finish in Glasgow

Four years after India, Canada can focus solely on sport in Glasgow Games

By Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

GLASGOW, Scotland – Around this time four years ago, Canadian team general manager Scott Stevenson was scrubbing floors at the Commonwealth Games athletes village in India.

Canada’s team had delayed its travel to New Delhi – for as long as a week for some athletes — because of serious concerns about hygiene and security in the village.

Canadian officials called the athletes’ quarters “unlivable.” Canada was among several countries that talked about pulling out.

Four years later, Stevenson and the rest of the Canadian team in Glasgow can focus on competition rather than cleaning – and that alone could help Canada climb back into the top three on the Commonwealth medal table.

“The challenge of Delhi was incredible,” said Stevenson. “We were looking at turning on taps that ran right to the floor. Flushing toilets that didn’t flush. There were live wires. We had to buy equipment and cleaning supplies.

“We had to be, in so many ways, responsible for getting the village ready ourselves.”

Stevenson arrived in Glasgow to inspect Canada’s living quarters, and their some-385 beds. He was three or four rooms into it when he sat back and realized “Wait a second, I haven’t made one note yet.

“Here, we could hit the ground running,” Stevenson said at the team’s opening news conference Tuesday.

Canada is gunning for a top-three finish in Glasgow after finishing fourth in New Delhi behind Australia, England and the home country.

The 265-member team is the largest Canada has ever fielded for a Commonwealth Games held outside of Canada, and it boasts Olympic and world championship medallists such as swimmer Ryan Cochrane, high jumper Derek Drouin, and heptathlete and decathlete Brianne Theisen-Eaton and Damian Warner.

“Our national sport bodies see this as a very important opportunity, not just as a stepping stone but as a very competitive event,” Stevenson said. “Very strong fields here. You’re going to see some great competition. Some of the events have the very best in the world here.”

Among the Games’ international stars: Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, distance runner Mo Farah and diver Tom Daley of England, Welsh cyclist Geraint Thomas, and rugby sevens player Samisoni Viriviri of Fiji.

Field hockey and rugby will be strong – Australia won the recent men’s World Cup and was second on the women’s side, while Commonwealth countries such as New Zealand virtually rule rugby sevens.

The Canadians expect strong opposition again from perennial powerhouse Australia, plus England and Scotland, which likely wouldn’t mind a strong showing ahead of the country’s independence referendum on Sept. 18.

“We believe in the reviews we’ve done that we’ll be in and around third place,” Stevenson said. “We anticipate moving back into where we are pushing the Aussies and England better than we did back then.”

Canada claimed 76 medals in 2010, including 26 gold, 17 silver and 33 bronze, but Stevenson wouldn’t wager how many times Canadians might climb the podium in Scotland.

When asked if 100 medals might be attainable, he said “If things go great, maybe. If things align. But we’re not getting into actual numbers.

“(But 100) is a beautiful number.”

Canada has topped 100 medals five times: 1994 in Victoria (129), 2002 in Manchester (118), 1986 in Edinburgh (116), 1990 in Auckland, N.Z., (113), and 1978 in Edmonton (109).

Veteran shooter Susan Nattrass will carry Canada’s flag into the opening ceremonies. The 63-year-old also boasts the most Commonwealth medals won by any member of this team, with eight (three silver, five bronze).

The team’s youngest member is 16-year-old gymnast Isabela Onyshko. The oldest: Paralympic lawn bowler Al Hanet, who is 78.

Canada will compete in 16 of the 17 sports, fielding teams in all but netball. And in every sport except judo, which had a conflict with an Olympic qualifying event, Canada is fielding its A team.

“Right away, coming out of Delhi, knowing what was going to follow Glasgow with the Pan Am Games in Toronto next year and then the Olympic Games in Rio, it became three Games back-to-back-to-back which became very important,” Stevenson said. “You put three multi-sport Games together in a row, you’re really going to be able to refine so many areas before the show in Rio. There’s a real opportunity.”

The smooth organization of Glasgow, and the ability to focus solely on sport, is a welcome relief for Stevenson and the rest of the Canadian team.

Stevenson recalled how some 130 journalists from various Commonwealth countries showed up for Canada’s opening news conference four years ago in New Delhi.

“Most of the interest there was not about sport. The interest there was more about the conditions in the village and some of the challenges we anticipated facing,” he told the handful of reporters on hand Tuesday.

Former Paralympic star Chantal Petiticlerc, Canada’s chef de mission in Glasgow, said the excitement in the Glasgow village is palpable.

“You can really feel that in the village at the moment where everything is going so well, the spirit and the atmosphere is so good, but at the same time highly competitive,” she said. “That’s something that I enjoy (about the Commonwealth Games), the balance of a great experience, but at the same time a great experience and great performances.”

Of Canada’s 265 athletes, there are 20 medallists from the New Delhi Games, while 134 of the athletes are Commonwealth Games rookies.

Just Posted

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

(file)
Pedestrian hit by police vehicle in Langley

Injuries described as serious, requiring surgery

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read