Abbotsford’s Amrit Sidhu and the Canadian men’s field hockey teammates were the cardiac kids of the recent Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, winning a silver medal in the most dramatic way possible.
Canada isn’t a traditional field hockey powerhouse – most of the time, it’s a major feat just to qualify for big international events.
But playing the new Hockey5s version of the sport, Sidhu’s squad saw each of its three playoff games go to a shootout.
“By the time the third shootout came, I was like, ‘This is ridiculous,'” Sidhu said with a chuckle. “But it shows our ability to overcome adversity.”
Team Canada went 2-2 in the round robin, with wins over South Africa (5-1) and Bangladesh (4-1), and losses to Spain (6-3) and Australia (5-2). But it was in the playoff rounds that things got really interesting.
In the quarter-finals, Canada and Pakistan were tied 7-7 after regulation time, necessitating a shootout which Canada won 3-2. In the semis, they met undefeated Spain, and once again went to a shootout with the score tied 4-4. They completed the upset with a 6-5 triumph in the shootout, with Sidhu notching the winner.
Canada met Australia in the final, and found themselves trailing 3-1 with less than three minutes left in the third period. But Sidhu scored twice to force a shootout – the tying goal coming with just five seconds left – and then opened the skills competition with a goal. Australia, though, rallied to win it 3-2.
“We felt like we won the gold medal, because of how we bonded as a team and all the adversity we went through,” Sidhu said. “We weren’t sad. It was an amazing journey.
“People call it a miracle (for Canada to win field hockey silver), but I realized that it’s not. It’s a lot of work ethic, and doing the little things right. It’s the little details that people don’t see that add up to win games like that.”
Sidhu, a 17-year-old Rick Hansen Secondary grad who is embarking on his first year of engineering studies at the University of the Fraser Valley, was Team Canada’s top goal-scorer with nine in regulation and four in shootouts.
TRAVEL GLITCHES CAN’T DERAIL RUGBY STAR KERR
Fellow Abbotsford native Lauren Kerr also brought home a silver medal from Nanjing, finishing second – also to Australia – in the women’s rugby sevens tournament.
For the 18-year-old Robert Bateman Secondary grad, even getting to the Youth Olympics was an adventure. The manager of the Canadian rugby team had Kerr’s travel visas, and was supposed to pass that paperwork on to her when she caught a connecting flight out of Vancouver with the rest of the team. But the team’s incoming flight was delayed, and by the time it landed, it was too late for Kerr to retrieve her visa, clear security and get on the plane. So while the rest of the squad got on the flight to China, Kerr was left at the Vancouver airport.
“I for sure panicked,” Kerr recounted with a chuckle. “My parents had gone two days before me . . . so I didn’t have anyone to call. I wasn’t really sure what to do.”
Kerr ended up catching a flight the next day, and was able to quickly get into the swing of things at the Youth Olympics despite arriving a day late.
Team Canada dropped its first game 24-10 to host China, but then caught fire, beating the U.S., Spain and Tunisia in pool play and then beating China 26-19 in a semifinal rematch.
That set up a date with Australia in the final, and the squad from down under topped Canada 38-10.
“Something just didn’t click that game – I wish we had won that game so bad,” said Kerr, who is starting her freshman year at the University of Victoria and will play rugby for the Vikes. “But being in that final was amazing, it was incredible.
“The fact you can get a Youth Olympic medal playing rugby – and hopefully the Olympics one day, fingers crossed – is really exciting.”
ABBY WRESTLERS SIXTH AT YOUTH OLYMPICS
Wrestlers Austin Gurm and Mickey Khehira rounded out the Abbotsford content at the Youth Olympics, and their outcomes were remarkably similar.
Gurm, going into Grade 11 at Abby Traditional, competed in the 76 kg free style division and won one of his three matches in his qualification pool. He capped his Youth Olympics run with a 4-0 loss to Ayoub Barraj of Tunisia in the fifth-sixth placing match.
Khehira, a senior-to-be a W.J. Mouat Secondary who competed in the 85 kg Greco-Roman class, likewise went 1-2 in qualification pool action and lost his fifth-sixth placing match. He fell 4-0 to India’s Shri Pal in his finale.