Rowing legend Marnie McBean and up-and-coming athletes take part in announcement
Internationally renowned course to host 14 medal events
ST. CATHARINES, ON, Nov. 15, 2013 /CNW/ - The home of North America's largest rowing regatta is where Canada's best rowers will race towards a photo finish at the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games, officials confirmed today.
"For more than a century, the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta has fostered rowing in this country, as well as the development of our young athletes," said Ian Troop, chief executive officer of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015).
"Being here is a reminder of the ingenuity, pride and tenacity of those early pioneering athletes and supporters," he continued. "In 2015, we'll build on that heritage. The Pan Am Games promise to create some truly exciting and historical moments, with Canadian rowers poised to reach the podium."
Forty-two Pan Am medals will be awarded over five days of competition in July 2015 on Martindale Pond, which has previously hosted the 1970 and 1999 World Rowing Championships, as well as the prestigious annual Royal Canadian Henley Regatta since 1903. The regatta is regularly held in August.
Canadian rowing superstar Marnie McBean, a three-time Olympic gold medallist, Pan Am gold medallist and world champion, took part in the announcement today, along with Team Canada women's development program coach Michelle Darvill and up-and-coming Canadian rowers Eric Woelfl and Kate Goodfellow.
Woelfl, who hails from St. Catharines, competed at the 2011 Pan Am Games in Mexico while Darvill, an Olympian and world champion, has coached teams at the 2011 and 2007 Pan Am Games. A former under-23 world champion, Goodfellow recently won silver at the 2013 World Rowing Championships in quadruple sculls.
In 2015, Rowing Canada Aviron is committed to sending its best team to the Pan Am Games — matching what it did in 1999 when Canada last hosted the multi-sport Games in Winnipeg.
"Competing on home soil and winning gold at the 1999 Games was a special moment for me," said McBean, who was one of three Canadian rowers who took home gold from those Games.
"There aren't a lot of opportunities for Canadian summer athletes to compete internationally at home," she said. "That's why the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games will be so special for our up-and-coming rowers. It will be an invaluable experience for them as they prepare for the Rio 2016 Olympics. I'm planning to be here cheering them on!"
Rated as a world-class rowing course by the International Rowing Federation (FISA), the Royal Canadian Henley Rowing Centre will host 14 men's and women's competitions in several disciplines, such as single, double and quadruple sculls; coxless pair and four; and eight with coxswain.
Along with TO2015 formally confirming the rowing venue today, the Government of Canada and the City of St. Catharines announced they are jointly funding the renovation of the sole bridge linking the rowing facility to the mainland.
"Rowing is one of the sports in which Canada has been most successful in winning medals, and this renowned facility will allow us to see our best rowing talents in action," said the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport). "Our Government is proud to support the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games and provide an opportunity for Canadians to witness the endurance skills of top rowers from throughout the Americas and to cheer on Canada. Our investment at this historic course will leave a lasting sporting legacy here in St. Catharines and Canada."
The Pan Am competition in St. Catharines is expected to feature strong teams from Argentina, United States, Cuba, Mexico and Chile, all of whom have racked up a number of medals in recent years.
"I am very proud that the home of one of Canada's oldest sports competitions has been chosen as the official rowing venue for the 2015 Pan Am Games," added Rick Dykstra, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Member of Parliament (St. Catharines). "Long after these Games have ended, the legacy of this world-class facility will be enjoyed by our community and local athletes, and will help develop tomorrow's hopefuls."
At the 2011 Pan Am Games, Canada's rowing team won four medals — a feat they aim to surpass on home water. In fact, the Canadian Olympic Committee has set a goal to finish in the top two nations in the overall medal count in 2015.
"Canada has a long established reputation of rowing excellence," said Michael Chan, Minister Responsible for the Pan/Parapan Games. "Facilities like the Royal Canadian Henley continue that proud tradition and the 2015 Games will be a great opportunity to showcase our talented athletes while inspiring the next generation of greats who will continue to represent the province and the nation in the international arena for years to come."
The Honourable Jim Bradley, MPP St. Catharines, Minister of the Environment, added:
"It's quite an honour for our city to be hosting the 2015 Pan Am Games' rowing competitions. We'll all be able to cheer on the top-notch Canadian competitors."
"We are incredibly proud that St. Catharines is part of the 2015 Pan Am Games and that Canada's best rowers are coming to our community to compete," said Mayor Brian McMullan, City of St. Catharines. "The Royal Canadian Henley has long been the perfect showcase for what our city has to offer as a sport tourism destination."
The TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015) is tasked with the responsibility of planning, managing and delivering the Games. Its mission is to ignite the spirit through a celebration of sport and culture. The TORONTO 2015 Pan American Games will take place July 10−26 and the Parapan American Games August 7-14.
The 2015 Games are funded by the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, as well as other partners and sponsors. CIBC is the Lead Partner of the Games.
For more information about the Games, please visit TORONTO2015.org.
SOURCE: Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games
For further information:
Director, media relations and chief spokesperson, TO2015