Looking to 'make a difference'

ALISON KORN -- For Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:59 AM ET

Three athletic university grads from the GTA have been selected for the highly competitive Canadian Sport Leadership Corps international internship program, which sends Canucks abroad to volunteer in developing Commonwealth countries.

Jennie Wong of Barrie, Leszek Cwik of Mississauga, and Joanna Verweel of Toronto are among six interns who will leave in July for seven-month placements in Africa and the Caribbean.

The Commonwealth Games Canada program uses sport to address social issues such as HIV/AIDS education, gender equality, and opportunities for people with a disability.

Wong, 22, will go to Trinidad and Tobago to help youth with disabilities get involved in an active and healthy lifestyle.

"Sport and physical activity have been a major influence on my life," said Wong, a 2007 University of Western Ontario kinesiology grad and varsity athlete in rugby. "I hope that I'll be able to make a small difference with the youth in Trinidad and be able to bring my experience back to Canada."

Cwik also is going Trinidad and Tobago while Verweel is headed to Barbados.

YOUTH WRESTLERS ADVANCE

Four Southern Ontario wrestlers have qualified for the Commonwealth Youth Games -- to be held Oct. 12-18 in Pune, India -- by winning their respective weight classes during a single-elimination Commonwealth Youth Games wrestling trial held in Ajax last Sunday.

The regional athletes, all aged 16 or 17, are: Jon Babulall (Brampton, 42 kilograms, Matmen Wrestling Club), Steve Takahashi (London, 50 kg, London Wrestling Club), Duncan Moffat (Milton, 58 kg, Milton Dynamo Wrestling Club), and Jake Jagas (Kitchener, 69 kg, Matmen Wrestling Club).

Canada will send a team of 56 athletes to the Games, which will serve as a training ground for many of those who will compete at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, and the 2012 Olympics in London, England.

AESTHETIC GYMNASTS IN TOWN

Toronto plays host to the ninth annual aesthetic group gymnastics world championships this weekend, with more than 400 international athletes from 14 countries competing at the University of Toronto yesterday through to tomorrow.

The sport is similar to rhythmic gymnastics except the exercises are done in a larger group, with no apparatus, and the emphasis is on natural, harmonic, flowing body movements.

It has flourished for more than 100 years in countries such as Finland and Estonia, but was recognized as an international sport only in 1996.

An evening gala at the Bluma Appel Theatre in the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts is planned for tomorrow between 7 p.m., and 9 p.m. Tickets are $25 available at the centre box office. For more information, visit www.2008aggworldchampionships.com.

TAEKWONDO ACE OFF TO SERBIA

Congratulations to Mississauga taekwondo athlete Courtney Condie, an Olympic hopeful for 2012, and her coach, Master Jamie Kitchell-Dossantos -- one of the 50 athlete/coach pairs to receive a grant of $8,000 from Petro-Canada's 2008 Fueling Athlete and Coaching Excellence program.

Condie, 18, is the Ontario representative for the program, which provides equal funding to 50 developing national Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls and their coaches each year. This year's list of recipients includes 15 athletes from Ontario. Coaches and athletes divide the money equally.

Condie placed fifth at the 2007 world championships and will use the money to travel with her coach to the World University Games in Serbia this July.

She is graduating from Applewood Heights Secondary School in Mississauga and has been accepted to York University for kinesiology.


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