Sullivan surprises

In her Olympic debut, Monique Sullivan of Calgary, AB had a gutsy performance and showed explosive power in the women’s Keirin event to qualify for the final and ride to a sixth-place finish.

“I’m really excited to make the A final,” said Sullivan. “The team has come such a long way of the past for years. I owe them everything. I’m not the strongest one in the race, so it was more of a tactical thing for me. It’s a little bit more risky when you have to race on tactics, but I did my best and I’m really happy.”

The first time on the Olympic program for women, the Keirin sees riders follow a pace bike from a mass start until a specific speed is reached then race for 2.5 laps of the track.

Also at the Velodrome, Canada’s strong women’s team is positioned well after pursuit qualifying action. The squad comprised of  Victoria B.C.’s Gillian Carleton, Coquitlam, B.C.’s Jasmine Glaesser and Edmonton’s AB’s Tara Whitten rode to a fourth-place spot in 3:19.816 . They will move into the first round beginning Saturday at 12:42 p.m. EST and face host nation Great Britain.

“I’m really excited for what tomorrow has in store for us,” said Carleton. “Historically we always do better in our second ride than in our first ride, so I think we’ll be very smooth tomorrow. Being at this track at this venue is really something special.”

At City of Coventry Stadium on Day 7 of the London Games, the Canadian women’s soccer team quieted a home-country crowd by shutting out Great Britain 2-0 in the quarter-final match.

“You do what you have to do to win,” said midfielder Rhian Wilkinson fo Baie d’Urfe QC. “The last 45 minutes they definitely had us on the back-foot and we knew we just had to survive it.

And survive they did.

Scoring for Canada was captain Christine Sinclair of Vancouver and Jonelle Filigno of Mississauga, ON. The victory advances the women into the semifinal, where they will play rivals U.S.A.

In Beijing, Dylan Armstrong was just one centimetre away from the podium. Four years later, the Kamloops, B.C. native didn’t have the performance he was hoping for in the shot put ring on the first day of Athletics competition at Olympic Stadium in London.

The 31-year-old  2011 World Championship silver medallist and Diamond League champion threw a 20.93 in the final for a fifth-place finish.

In other Athletics action Friday Alex Genest finished 7th in his heat of the 3,000m steeplechase in a time of 8:22.62 and did not advance to final. “I ran a great race, I did exactly what I wanted to do,” said the Lac-Aux-Sables, QC native.

In women’s heptathlon, Jessica Zelinka of London, ON sits in third place after four events on Day 1, earning 3,903 points. Teammate Brianne Theisen of Humboldt, Sask. sits in 15th place with 3,763 points moving in to Day 2 Saturday. “The hurdles were incredible, I was in a great place.  In the high jump I was searching for that place,” said Zelinka.

The 1,500m saw Cambridge, ON’s Nate Brannen advance to the semifinal after clocking a 3:39.95 for a fifth place finish and a ticket to the semifinals.

“I felt incredible and my fitness is great. When I had to go I was able to,” said Brannen . “I am very happy. The plan was top 6 for the auto qualifier and that’s what I did.”

Dartmouth, NS’s Clayton Custio had a big presence in the ring Friday taking down Cameron Hammond of Australia 14-11 to advance into the 69kg quarter-final on Tuesday evening at 4:45 p.m. EST. “It feels great,” said Custio. “Some people probably didn’t think I’d make it this far, but I showed them as long as we do the work and want it, we can succeed in whatever we want to do.”

In Group B basketball action Friday the Canadian women’s squad defeated Brazil 79-73 to advance into the quarter-final round. Courtnay Pilypaitis of Orleans, ON and Kim Smith of Mission, B.C. both had 14 points in the victory. The women will face Australia Sunday at 9:30 a.m.

“To represent your country is a great honour,” said Pilypaitis. “But to exceed expectations and get into the top-8 is huge for Canada Basketball.”

Coach Allison McNeill agreed this success on the Olympic stage is a big step forward for the program.
“None of the Canadian kids have seen us at the Olympics before so this is so big for the growth of our program,” she said. “Now we are now going to prepare for Australia, slow the game down and take it one step at a time.”

Victoria B.C.’s Ryan Cochran bounced back from a rough 400m freestyle to put down what he called a ‘positive’ swim in the preliminary heat of his specialty event the 1,500m free Friday. The 2008 bronze medallist won his heat in a time of 14:49.31 to earn his place on the starting blocks for his shot at the top of the podium Saturday afternoon at 2:26 p.m. EST.

In the 200m women’s breaststroke Oshawa, ON’s Sinead Russell touched the wall in 2:09.86 for a top-eight finish in the final.  In relay action, the men’s 4X100m medlay relay team of Brent Hayden (Mission, B.C.), Charles Francis (Cowansville, QC), Scott Dickens (Burlington, ON) and Joe Bartoch (London, ON) swam to a 3:34.46 for a fourth-place finish in the semifinal for a spot on the blocks in Saturday’s final at 5:27 p.m. EST.

In the women’s 50m freestyle, Victoria Poon of Lasalle, QC stopped the clock at 25.17  to finish eighth  in the semifinal and will not advance.

Victoria, B.C.’s Dave Calder and Scott Frandsen of Kelowna B.C. rounded out the men’s coxless pairs final in sixth spot with a time of 6:30.49 Friday at Eton Dorney. “The next couple of years would have been so much nicer if we walked away with a medal,” said Calder. “But in sport you never know what you are going to get. I still absolutely love this sport, I love the relationships that I’ve developed, and the support we’ve had over the years.”

Jason Burnett is known for taking risks. His world-record holding Trampoline routines are renowned for difficulty and on Friday the 2008 silver medallist of Etobicocke, ON stayed true to his reputation but suffered the consequences. The Etobicoke ON, resident was forced to re-adjust in mid-air bounced out of bounds in a qualifying routine and did not advance, finishing eighth with a score of 6.715.

“It was great to go out there among all the Canadian fans,” said the 25-year-old. “My second routine was still a little shaky and I knew the mistakes I’ve made and tried to correct them. It’s just that I didn’t get there. My plan is to go one more Games.”

After preliminary rounds in women’s 3m individual springboard, Montreal’s Jennifer Abel sits in fourth spot while her fellow synchro partner, and 3m synchro bronze medallist Emilie Heymans of St-Lambert of QC hangs on to sixth spot. The will compete in the semifinal round 9:30 a.m. Saturday.