HUNDREDS of Manitoba athletes have history in their sights, with four days of Canada Games festivities yet to play and a week's worth of medals behind.
With 12 days of competition done, Team Manitoba had racked up 22 medals by early Tuesday evening, including a gold, nine silver and 12 bronze. With lots of events yet in play, including more paddling events, fencing, cycling and a whack of team games, the 'Toban contingent is poised to break its record of 29 medals, which it set all the way back in 1989.
"We're doing good, and I still believe we're going to get over that (number)," Team Manitoba chef de mission Ted Bigelow said Tuesday evening, while running between events in Sherbrooke, Quebec. "Our paddling kids are smoking, and they keep going throughout the week. They could get a whack of hardware. And fencing... they promise me they're going to be getting two more medals."
Knock on wood, of course, but so far so good: In the first two days of paddling events, Manitoba's Tom Sherwin notched two bronzes in the one-man canoe-kayak, for the 500- and 1000-metre races, while Hannah Guttormson and Stephanie Lowrie earned bronze in their two-woman 500-metre paddle. On the fencing side of things, Winnipeg's Cam Mackay picked up bronze with his sabre.
Then there was Tyler Mislawchuk, who clinched a silver in the triathlon on Tuesday. It wasn't the colour he went to Quebec to win, but after a season where he almost was sidelined by injury, the silver still glinted bright. "I came just wanting to compete," the Oak Bluff-raised athlete said.
"Triathlon's a sport where it changes and it's very different every single race, because there's so many possibilities. So many different things can go wrong with so many different athletes. I knew I was going to be competitive, but I didn't know where I would place."
Mislawchuk, 18, knows exactly what can go wrong. In July, he was testing the waters of his first professional triathlon in Edmonton and into the bike portion of the race, when a competitor in front of him crashed hard. The crash dragged Mislawchuk down and banged up his leg and ribs, badly. He was on crutches for a week, and couldn't train for three.
At first, Mislawchuk worried the hit to his fitness might put his Canada Games success in jeopardy. But he swam well in Sherbrooke, hit the bike hard, and if it weren't for stomach trouble during the run he might even have closed the five-second gap to first place. Still, as he was running the last kilometre, he gauged the pace of the top four, and realized he'd be coming home with some hardware.
"I had a moment where I enjoyed the good feeling," said Mislawchuk, who will head to the World Cup in London in September before launching his pro career next year. "Then I put my nose to the grindstone, and finished the race... (having been injured) makes it a little bit sweeter."