Gilbert big backer of Ottawa's Games bid

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:34 AM ET

The way Glenroy Gilbert sees it, Ottawa has waited long enough for its chance to welcome the world.

Count the 1996 Olympic gold medallist on board as a big supporter of the capital's bid to land the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

"We're due," Gilbert was saying the other day. "We're due to get something like that here. We haven't had anything like that in this city, as far as I can remember."

While Ottawa played host to the Francophone Games four years ago, the Commonwealth Games are a much juicier prize. Only four Canadian cities have ever held them since the 'Friendly Games' launched as the British Empire Games back in 1930 in Hamilton.

Victoria was the last Canadian host, back in 1994 -- a Games that Ottawa wanted. Now here we are again, bidding against Halifax, Hamilton, York Region and Calgary to be the Canadian candidate for the final vote in 2007.

You've already heard and read plenty about the economic impact such a Games could have here.

But Gilbert, who competed in three Commonwealth Games and was in Manchester, England three years ago as a coach, prefers to consider the sporting benefits.

A boost in facilities are a given -- the bright blue track you now see at the Terry Fox Facility is a legacy of the Francophone Games, as was the sprucing up of Frank Clair Stadium and the Civic Centre.

Ottawans would also get a first-hand look at athletes gearing up for an Olympic Games two years later. And as Gilbert points out, many of world's top sprinters hail from Commonwealth nations in the Caribbean and Africa.

"It doesn't compare to a world championships or an Olympics, but it can in certain events," he said.

Culturally, he added, "it would show the folks in Ottawa a snapshot of the world."

For the athletes, the Commonwealth Games can be a vital step on the way to Olympic glory.

"If you have a developing athlete, you'd want to send him to a Commonwealth Games to get his feet wet and understand what international competition is all about," said Gilbert, Athletics Canada's co-ordinator of its sprint/relay program.

"When I first went to the Commonwealth Games (in Auckland in 1990), I was 20. Man, it opened my eyes ... you get to see that yeah, you're good at home, but you really need to start to compare yourself to the bigger picture on the world scene."

Now, Gilbert hopes, the rest of the Commonwealth will get its eyes opened about Ottawa in nine years time. "It would definitely put the city on the map in terms of sporting events," he said.

RIDING THE GOLDEN WAVE: Ottawa kayakers had a spectacular day at the Canadian whitewater slalom championships held last weekend on the Kananaskis River in Alberta. Two-time Olympian James Cartwright of Ottawa won the senior C-1 crown, while Gatineau's Jen Gratto repeated as women's K-1 champ. In junior (under-19) events, local paddlers produced another three gold medals. Chelsea's Sara Potvin-Bernal was tops in women's K-1, while Spencer Pomeroy of Ottawa led a local medal sweep in the men's C-1 race. Adam and Jamie Cutts of Ottawa took the C-2 men's title. Also bringing home gold was Michael Taylor, who bested the field in cadet (under-15) boys' K-1. Other local medallists included: Julian Potvin, Chelsea, silver, junior C-1; Cameron Smedley, Ottawa, bronze, junior C-1; John Hastings, Ottawa, bronze, senior K-1; Tom Hewitt, Gatineau, senior C-1, and Doug Corkery, Ottawa, masters (over-35) K-1.

PADDLE POWER: The Rideau Canoe Club has qualified 52 crews for the Canadian championships Sept. 1-3 in Montreal. At the Eastern Ontario trials held last weekend at Mooney's Bay, bantam Natalie Davison led Rideau with five winning performances, while partner Cheyanne Farquharson had three. Earning four victories in midget events were Stephanie Mayer, Cameron Marcus, Ben Tardioli, Pat Lester and Chris Cameron. Four juniors -- Rhys Hill, Matt Raymond, Alison Caiger-Watson and Diana Deek -- each won a pair of events.

ONTARIO'S BEST: With a dominant performance in Arnprior last weekend, the Orleans Rebels claimed the Ontario Midget Tier II fast-pitch championship. The Rebels blanked the defending champion St. Catharines Thunder 3-0 in the final, after posting earlier wins over Niagara Falls 9-0, the Kars Aces 6-0, and Newmarket Stingers 3-1. Orleans now advances to the Eastern Canadian championships, Aug. 25-28 in Saint John, N.B.

AROUND THE AMATEUR SCENE: It was golden day at the Canadian water skiing championships last week for the Stevens household of Morrisburg. Karen Stevens, a member of the national developmental team, won the girls' 13-16 slalom on Manitoba's Lake Shirley. In the masters class, her father Mark earned top honours in tricks and jump.

rob.brodie@ott.sunpub.com


Videos

Photos