VICTORIA – A total of 19 current and former Vikes represented Canada extremely well on the International stage at the XXI Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia from April 4-15.
Vikes competing at the games recorded at total of six top-five finishes. Those results came in the pool, as well as on the field hockey and rugby pitches.
Kicking things off with women’s rugby, Pam Buisa, who won both a Canada West 15s Championship and a Canadian University 7s title with the Vikes, was a member of a Canadian women’s rugby 7s team that finished fourth overall.
The Canadians started their tournament with back-to-back wins over South Africa and Kenya before losses to New Zealand and Australia sent them to the bronze medal game against England. Canada fought hard down the stretch, but ended up missing out on a medal by just one try in a 24-19 defeat.
Veterans Jeremy Bagshaw and Hilary Caldwell both had outstanding performances in the pool, with Bagshaw just narrowly missing out on multiple medals.
Bagshaw, who studies at UVic but does not compete for the Vikes, was a member of the 4×200-metre Canadian relay team that finished fourth, while the native of Victoria also compiled fifth-place finishes in the 400-metre freestyle and the 4×100-metre relay.
Caldwell competed in just one event, the 200-metre backstroke, a distance that she claimed bronze in at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. While a medal wasn’t in the cards for the swimmer that led the Vikes to a fourth-place finish at the 2011 CIS National Championships, Caldwell swam well to finish fifth in a time of 2:09.22.
Three former Vikes played a large role for a Canadian Women’s Field Hockey team that secured their best-ever result at a Commonwealth Games by finishing fifth.
“Canada hired a new coach and he coached them for about three or four weeks in advance of the tournament with probably some of the most intense training they have ever had,” said Vikes head coach Lynne Beecroft. “It was a really good lead up and once they got there it was a really positive group. Their level of fitness really paid off, when they were tired they still had good control of the ball.”
The Canadians earned that result thanks to a record of 2-1-2 at the tournament that included a tie with the No. 4 ranked team in the world from New Zealand.
Goalkeeper Kaitlyn Williams was lights out all tournament, allowing just one goal against in the three and three quarter games that she played. Williams, who was named a U SPORTS Rookie of the Year in her first season as a Vike, was in net for the team’s 1-0 loss to No. 4 ranked Australia, as well as 0-0 ties with Scotland and New Zealand. Williams finished the tournament by allowing no goals in the three quarters of the game that she played in the team’s fifth-place clinching 3-1 victory over South Africa.
“Kaitlyn Williams was like a ninja in net,” said Beecroft. “The commentators said that they should have a national holiday in Canada in her honour because of how strong she was playing. She was just on fire.”
Earning her 150th international cap for Canada at the games, defender Danielle Hennig also played a key role in the strong Canadian finish.
“Dani Hennig was very much in control, she had good out-letting skills, and made key tackles,” said Beecroft.
Rounding out the Vikes contingent at the games was Kathleen Leahy, who finished her outstanding Vikes career by winning the President’s Cup Award in 2016.
‘It was great for Kathleen Leahy to get selected,” said Beecroft. “Throughout the hard work training process, she was one of the top-four kids and won herself a spot on the team with her hard work. I am really proud of her.”
The quartet of Brenden Bissett, James Kirkpatrick, Matthew Sarmento and Keegan Pereira, all of whom who have suited up for the Vikes men’s field hockey team, helped the Canadians to an eighth-place finish at the tournament.
The Canadians finished the games with a record of 1-4, with their lone victory coming in a 1-0 win over Scotland.
A full eight of the 14 members of the Canadian men’s rugby teams at the games were players who at one time or another have donned the Vikes blue and gold.
An opening game loss of 26-10 at the hands of Kenya, hindered the chances of a team that would finish the tournament with a record of 1-2.
Former Vike Mike Fualiefau recorded a hat-trick of tries in the Canadians lone victory, a comfortable 47-0 win over Zambia.
Rounding out the University of Victoria athletes at the games was diver Celina Toth. Toth, who claimed two medals at the most recent FISU World Universiade Games, finished ninth in the 10-metre platform event.
Vikes results from Commonwealth Games:
Women’s Field Hockey:
vs. Australia: 1-0 Loss, April 5.
vs. Scotland: 0-0 Tie, April 6
vs. New Zealand: 0-0 Tie, April 8.
vs. Ghana: 5-1 Win, April 11.
vs. South Africa: 3-1 Win, April 13.
Men’s Field Hockey
vs. New Zealand: 6-2 Loss, April 6.
vs. Scotland: 1-0 Win, April 7.
vs. Australia: 4-0 Loss, April 10.
vs. South Africa: 2-0 Loss, April 11.
vs. Pakistan: 3-1 Loss, April 13.
vs. South Africa: 29-0 Win, April 13.
vs. Kenya: 24-12 Win, April 13.
vs. New Zealand: 24-7 Loss, April 14.
vs. Australia: 33-7 Loss, April 15.
vs. England: 19-24 Loss, April 15.
vs. Kenya: 26-10 Loss, April 14.
vs. Zambia: 47-0 Win, April 14.
vs. New Zealand: 33-7 Loss, April 14.
Swimming & Diving
Jeremy Bagshaw: 400-m Freestyle, 5th – 3:49.52. 4×100-m Relay, 5th – 3:16.98. 4×200-m Relay, 4th – 7:14.12.
Hilary Caldwell: 200-m Backstroke, 5th – 2:09.22.
Celina Toth: 10-m Platform, 9th – 300.85.