Highlights from the Commonwealth Games

Canada’s athletic prowess was on full display for the world to see as many Olympians and Olympic hopefuls joined the Canadian Commonwealth Team to represent our country at the XIX Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Represent they did: Canadian athletes won 76 medals – 26 gold, 17 silver, 33 bronze. Canada finished fourth overall behind perennial leaders Australia and England, as well as the home country of India.

With such a deep collage of medals, there is no shortage of highlight performances. Here is a look at only some of them by Canadians in Delhi:

Tara Whitten: Selected as Canada’s flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony, Whitten was the country’s only quadruple medallist at the Games. The Edmonton cyclist continued her breakout year with gold in time trial and bronze medals in points race, individual pursuit and team sprint (with Calgary’s Monique Sullivan). Whitten is also the 2010 world champion in points race. The amazing thing: she only began cycling competitively in 2007!

Alexandre Despatie: One of Canada’s greatest-ever divers doesn’t seem to slow down. The three-time Olympic medallist added to his sterling resume with three gold medals at these Commonwealth Games. Despatie (Laval, Que.) swept the springboard events at 1, 3 and 3-metre synchro (the last with Regina’s Reuben Ross).

Jennifer Abel: At her first Commonwealth Games, 19-year-old diver Jennifer Abel (Laval, Que.) made a serious splash. The 2008 Olympian captured three medals: gold in 3-metre synchro (with Emilie Heymans of St-Lambert, Que.), gold in 1 metre and silver in 3 metres.

Julia Wilkinson: A rising star in the pool, Julia Wilkinson (Stratford, Ont.) won her first three medals at a major international competition. They are all bronze and came in the 200-metre individual medley, the 100-metre backstroke and with her teammates in the 4×100-metre medley relay.

Brent Hayden & Ryan Cochrane: These two are the leading stars in Canadian men’s swimming. Hayden had perhaps the most dominating performance by a Canadian at the Games in winning gold in both the 50- and 100-metre freestyle events. Both were Commonwealth records and the 100-metre mark was the fastest in the world this year. Not to be outdone, Cochrane confidently won gold in both the 400- and 1,500-metre freestyle events. The latter is his Olympic bronze medal event from 2008.

Canadian wrestlers: The wrestling program in Canada appears in great form as it won 14 medals in these Games. Canada’s four Commonwealth champions: Carol Huynh in 48 kg, Justine Bouchard in 63 kg, Ohenewa Akuffo in 72 kg and Arjan Bhullar in 120 kg. Silver medals went to Tonya Verbeek in 59 kg, Megan Buydens in 67 kg, Jack Bond in Greco-Roman 66 kg, James Mancini in 60 kg and Korey Jarvis in 96 kg. Rounding out the fantastic results with bronze medals: Eric Fuenekes in Greco-Roman 96 kg, Promise Mwenga in Greco-Roman 55 kg, Chris Prickett in 66 kg, Jessica MacDonald in 51 kg and Evan MacDonald in 74 kg.

The track & field crew: Canadian track and field athletes won 16 medals even without some of its notable stars. In the “throwing” events, Sultana Frizell won gold in hammer throw while Dylan Armstrong won gold in shot put. Armstrong narrowly missed an Olympic bronze medal in 2008. The other stars in athletics were Alice Falaiye winning gold in long jump, Nicole Forrester winning gold in high jump and Jamie Adjetey-Nelson winning gold in decathlon. Special nods to Jessica Zelinka, who captured silver in heptathlon, and Angela Whyte who kept Canada’s tradition of winning in 100-metre hurdles alive with a silver medal.

These are a few of the incredible stories. Congratulations to all Canadian athletes for another fine Commonwealth performance!