PRIOR to their Western Canada Summer Games gold medal beach volleyball match Tuesday in Kamloops, Manitoba coach Wanda Guenette pulled Ozana Nikolic aside for a pep talk.
"I will be honest," said Nikolic, "before the game I was nervous. I even cried, because I was so exhausted. We had been playing six days in a row (including practice). She took me to the side, took me by my shoulders and said, 'Ozana we made it. We're in the finals and this is the time to give it all we've got' and it really helped."
No kidding. The Manitoba women came out and won the gold, beating B.C. 2-0 (21-7, 21-15).
"It was an exhausting game," agreed Shanlee McLennan, the other half of the Manitoba team. "We were both really tired in our second set, and we had lost to B.C. in the round robin. The fight to win the gold medal is what kept us going."
With the heat hovering around 33 C, both women said that playing in the high humidity in Winnipeg paid off for them.
"Back in Winnipeg we played in just over 50 C with the humidity," said Nikolic, "and our coach had us play and practise in that weather. That definitely helped us."
Manitoba's men defeated the Northwest Territories 2-0 (21-11, 21-18) for the beach volleyball bronze.
Once again, Manitoba paddlers had a big day with three golds, two silver and two bronze. In total, Manitoba claimed 30 medals on the day: eight gold, 11 silver and 11 bronze medals.
In track and field, Manitoba had two gold medals. Melissa Kitching won the 400-metre hurdles in 61.53 to break the Games record of 61.76. Sam Vincent won the men's 3,000 metres.
Also on the track, Paul Rydberg was second in the men's pole vault and the men's 4x400 relay team of Jamie McMaster, Joel Vankoughnet, Dylan Ostberg and Matthew Fitkowsky got silver.
The team of Riley McCharles, Riley Unger and Tyler Mislawchuk won a gold medal in team triathlon with a time of 58.31. The women's team of Jane MacDougall, Janessa Klatt and Ashlyn Cortvriendt took the bronze in 1:08.55.
Tom Sherwin, who already had five canoeing/kayaking gold medals going into Tuesday's competition, added two more, plus a silver. Kara Hummelt picked up a gold medal in the women's C-1 2,000 and a silver in the women's C-2 2,000 with Nadya Crossman-Serb as her teammate.
Zane Clarke got bronze in the K-1 2,000. The men's C-4 200 team of Brandon Stamm, Max Swatek, Mohamed Crossman-Serb and Jordan Smallwood also got a bronze in 51.7.
In baseball, Manitoba third baseman Devin Lebleu drove in two runs to help the team beat Saskatchewan 12-9 and claim the bronze medal.
On the tennis courts, Manitoba picked up four silver medals: Emily Fridrik and Kylie Waschuk finished second in the women's doubles, as did Cole Lecap and Rosario Diorella in mixed doubles.
Also winning silver was Sam Unrau in the wheelchair event. Unrau won another silver when he teamed up with Jayson Botham in doubles.
In singles play, Patrick Fu defeated Saskatchewan's Alexander Waslen 6-4, 7-6 to claim the bronze medal in men's singles tennis.
In women's basketball, guard Kyanna Giles drained 31 points and 13 rebounds, but it wasn't enough as Manitoba settled for a silver medal, losing 61-60 at the hands of B.C. The men's team, also won a silver. They lost to B.C. 86-44 in that gold-medal final.