Destiny Discover
Hamilton well represented at Rio Olympics

by Gord Bowes
Hamilton Mountain News (Aug 01, 2016)

13 athletes, coaches from Steeltown

Hamiltonians will have plenty of hometown heroes to cheer for at the Rio Olympics.

Three of the athletes — Kia Nurse, Anthony Romaniw and Alena Sharp — are graduates of St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School on the west Mountain.

Nurse and other local members of Canada’s women’s basketball team have perhaps the best chance of any Hamilton athletes to bring home a gold medal.

A starter with the NCAA women’s basketball champion UConn Huskies the past two years, the 20-year-old Nurse was a key part of Team Canada’s win over the U.S. last summer at the Pan Am Games.

The first-time Olympian is joined on the team by veteran Shona Thorburn, who will turn 34 on Sunday. Thorburn, a Westdale grad who plays professional basketball in Europe, was a member of the Pan Am gold-medal winners and played on the 2012 Olympic team that finished eighth.

The women’s basketball team is coached by Dundas native Lisa Thomaidis, who coached the team to gold last year at the Pan Am Games. The team manager is Anne Marie Thuss, the interim head coach of the McMaster Marauders.

Natalie Achonwa, 23, who attended St. Mary high school for a couple of years and now plays with the Indiana Fever in the WNBA, is also on the team.

The Olympic women’s basketball gold medal game is Aug. 21.

Anthony Romaniw, 24, finished second in the 800m at the Canadian track championships last month. He finished 15th at the 2015 Pan Am Games. The 800m heats begin Friday morning.

Alena Sharp, 35, has been playing professionally on the LPGA Tour since 2005. She had a career-high fifth-place finish at the Blue Bay LPGA last October. Women’s gold begins Aug. 11.

Ancaster’s Melissa Tancredi was the Canada’s second-highest scorer at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, when Canada won the women’s soccer bronze medal. Tancredi, 34, a Cathedral High School graduate, was also a member of the 2008 team that finished eighth in Beijing.

Reid Coolsaet is the second fastest marathoner in Canadian history. Last September, the 37-year-old Westdale graduate ran 2:10:28 to finish sixth in Berlin and come within 19 seconds of Jerome Drayton’s 40-year-old national record. He placed 27th at the 2012 Olympics. The marathon is held on the last day of the Rio Games, Aug. 21.

Eleanor Harvey, 31, is competing in her first Olympics. She won gold in the team foil at the 2015 Pan Am Games. The Westdale Secondary School graduate is competing in the women’s individual foil, which begins Saturday.

Heather Bansley, 28, of Waterdown is making her first trip to the Olympics. She and teammate Sarah Pavan are Canada’s top-ranked beach volleyball team. Beach volleyball starts Saturday.

Erin Hartwell of Dundas is also going to Rio as a track and spring coach with Canada’s cycling team.

In total, 313 athletes will represent Canada in 37 sports, joined by 205 coaches and support staff. The Rio Games run Aug. 5-21.

Gord Bowes ...

Hamilton's Olympic team.
Kia Nurse is welcomed during the introduction of Canada's women's basketball team.
Hamilton's Olympic team. Kia Nurse is welcomed during the introduction of Canada's women's basketball team.