Road to Commonwealth Games goes through Victoria

Swimmers, throwers, among local contingent going to Australia

Despite being part of the first generation of athletes to use the Lambrick Park throwing cage, Adam Keenan, a 2011 graduate of Lambrick Park secondary, is not part of the Lambrick Park ‘Tossy Posse.’

Surely, however, he’ll be made an honorary member this week, as he arrives in the Gold Coast of Australia for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, starting today, April 4 until April 15.

Keenan was first in the hammer throw at the 2017 Canadian Track and Field Championships, and still owns the Canadian junior hammer record from 2013. He’s next in line to be Canada’s top hammer thrower, the payoff after seven years dedicated to throwing. Keenan finished high school in 2011 with gold in the shot put, discus and hammer. He then focused on the hammer qualified for the Commonwealth Games through a “last-chance” effort in December.

Coming off an injury, the pressure is on Keenan, not just to throw well, but to focus on his university studies while he’s there.

“I notified my professors that I will be gone for 10 days to compete for Canada,” Keenan said. “They have all been incredibly supportive and encouraging… Bringing my schoolwork with me to Australia will allow me to have reprieve from the pressure of the Commonwealth Games.”

After a fairly anticlimactic season, Keenan and his coach agreed he needed one more chance to make a big throw. It was at his last-chance attempt, at a December meet in Phoenix, that Keenan threw 72.57 metres to qualify for the Games. It’s an important stepping stone in his career. Since 2011 Keenan trained in Kamloops with coach Anatoliy Bodnarchuk Canadian, who also coached Olympic medalist Dylan Armstrong (shot put). Keenan is currently finishing school at Northern Arizona University.

Among those he’ll join in Australia are fellow hammer thrower Sultana Frizell, the two-time reigning Commonwealth Games women’s hammer gold medalist (2010 and 2014) and Commonwealth Games record holder, who spent 2016 training out of the Lambrick Park throwing cage. It was also Frizell who helped coin the term Tossy Posse, though she since returned to her home province of Ontario.

Keenan is among more than a dozen athletes who’ve come through, or from, Greater Victoria, as the community has become an athlete springboard for international level competition.

Keenan and Frizell join local cyclist Jay Lamoreux, Claremont grad Matt Sharpe (triathlon) and current Claremont student Bryden Hattie (diving), and Hattie’s Boardworks Diving club teammate Celina Toth, national diving champion in the 10m platform.

Two Oak Bay High grads, Maddie Secco and Kathleen Leahy, will represent Team Canada’s field hockey team at the Games.

Mount Douglas secondary grad Conor Morgan, a 6-foot-9 forward in his fourth year with the UBC Thunderbirds, has been named to the Canadian basketball team.

A contingent of Swimming Canada’s athletes from the High Performance Centre based at Saanich Commonwealth Place includes Olympic medalist Hilary Caldwell, recent Claremont grad Sarah Darcel (University of California, Berkeley), UVic Vikes standout Jeremy Bagshaw, Ladysmith’s Faith Knelson, and HPC coach Ryan Mallette. Caldwell will seek the podium in the 200-metre backstroke, the event she won bronze in at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Saint Michaels University School grads Mike Fuailefau and Luke McCloskey, both of local club Castaway Wanderers, join Oak Bay High grads Connor Braid (James Bay) and Caroline Crossley (CW) as locally produced players on the rugby sevens teams for the Games.

 

Kevin Light/Swimming Canada photo Hilary Caldwell swims the backtroke during Swimming Canada National Swim Trials at Saanich Commonwealth Pool in Victoria April 8.

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