Melissa Bishop builds on momentum with 800m gold at Pan Am Games

Having carved a remarkable athletic legacy with the OUA’s University of Windsor Lancers, Melissa Bishop’s aspirations for a podium finish at the Pan Am Games were exceeded by a golden performance. Breaking the two-minute mark in the women’s 800 meters, the 26-year old employed tactical strategy as she remained with the top three runners throughout the race.

Surpassing the top three runners in the last 150 meters (she climbed into second by passing on the outside), Bishop’s crossing of the finish line resulted in an ecstatic crowd of Canadian fans in attendance, as host country Canada’s gold medal streak extend to twelve consecutive days. Registering a time of 1:59.62, Bishop finished ahead of American Alysia Montano, who settled for silver, while Brazil’s Flavia De Lima claimed bronze.

Jubliant over winning a gold medal on home soil, the native of Eganville, Ontario acknowledged the impact of the crowd in post-race interviews. With the gold, Bishop contributed Canada’s fifth gold in athletics at the Games.

Considering that she finished in eighth place at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Bishop continues to improve, establishing herself as a clear contender for gold at the 2016 Rio Summer Games. Taking into account that she suffered an ankle injury in May, several weeks of training were lost, only adding to the impact of the gold medal outcome.

As a member of the Windsor Lancers female track and field team, she helped them grab three CIS track and field championships. Of note, she would capture gold in the CIS national championships in the 600-meter and 1000-meter races with Windsor, where she earned a Bachelor of Education in 2011.

Making her Summer Games debut for Canada at London 2012 (where she placed 30th), it was part of a breakthrough year that saw her break the two-minute mark for the first time in her career. Accomplishing the feat at the Prefontaine Classic, she would build on this momentum with consecutive Canadian championships in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

Greater Toronto Area track prodigy Sarah Wells adds Pan Am silver to promising career

Having competed in the semifinals of the 400-meter hurdles at the 2012 London Olympics, Sarah Wells can now boast of a Pan Am Games silver medal. Competitive throughout the race, Wells finished second to Shamier Little, while Deborah Rodriguez of Uruguay earned bronze. Of note, Wells’ time in the race at CIBC Athletics Stadium was an impressive 56.17.

Upon crossing the finish line, she proudly adorned her back with the Canadian flag, running a celebratory lap while being showered with applause. As a side note, her semifinal time on the day prior was 56.77 seconds, placing second.
Leading into the Pan Am Games, Wells’ image, jumping over an imaginary hurdle, with her blonde hair flowing in the background, were plastered on a banner outside of Toronto’s Eaton Centre. She was quickly known as the “Face of the Pan Am Games.”

Raised in Unionville, Ontario (not far from 100 meter gold medalist Andre DeGrase who grew up in neighboring Markham), she ran in front of 20 to 30 proud family members in the stands, cheering her on. Of note, she was featured at 17 years of age in the Toronto Star. In 2007, she had qualified for the Canadian team that played in Brazil’s Pan-Am Junior Finals, with a time of 1.00:37 in the 400-meter hurdles.

As one of the stars of Unionville High School’s track and field team, she advanced to the Ontario track and field finals in her senior year. In regional competition, she had earned first place in three track competitions including the 400m hurdles, 100m hurdles and the winning 4×400 relay (of which she was the anchor).

Recognized as Unionville High’s track and field MVP for three straight years, Wells also excelled in field hockey. Complementing such a distinguished track career at the high school level was the fact that she broke the Canadian Youth under-17 record of 59.48 seconds in the 400m hurdles in June 2006. During her high school years, she would also practice at York University, the site of her silver medal run in the Pan Am Games.

Equally accomplished in the class room, her career took her to internationally renowned University of Toronto. Back in 2004, she was invited by the university to participate in its junior development program. At the 2013 Summer Universiade, she proudly represented the University (where she studies physical education and kinesiology) as she helped Canada gain the silver in the 4 x 400-meter hurdle relay.

During her preparation for the Pan Am Games, she participated in a series of tests where she lined up in starting blocks affixed to custom-made force plates, providing research information for grad student Lindsay Musalem. Working with other University of Toronto track athletes, the plates were used for the first time to gather data as the start is the most crucial aspect to success in sprinting, Looking to see if sprinters such as Wells can reproduce strong starts, Musalem was measuring the velocity of sprinters launching from the start blocks, while also determining the exertion of force in numerous directions.

The most admirable aspect of her remarkable run to the silver was the fact that she has bounced back from injury more than once. Prior to the 2012 London Summer Games, Wells was shelved for nine months, after a stress fracture diagnosis on her left femur. The bigger challenge was being able to return to her previous fitness level while maintaining her psychological toughness. A strong belief in herself, plus a strong support network was accentuated as she wrote the word “Believe” on her palm at London, waving to the crowd proudly.

After competition in 2014, the femur endured another stress fracture and nearly did not appear at the Pan Am Games after a tear in her hamstring. As devastating as it was, Wells proved why she is such a world class athlete overcoming adversity. The support of the League Group was an exceptional source of encouragement, helping her build on a remarkable level of fitness. It is an effort that she tries to reciprocate as a co-founder of the Fearless Action Challenge, empowering young girls to stand up to peer pressure while utilizing physical activity as a source of confidence.

Through great determination and perseverance, she managed to rebound and capture a fourth Canadian title in 2015. Contested in Edmonton, the Canadian championships took place just four days prior to the start of the Pan Am Games. As a side note, Wells managed to improve on her time, running faster than she had in practice with a time of 56.03, just 38 seconds off her personal best of 55.65.

McKayla Maroney earns the baseball card treatment

For baseball card collectors opening packs of the 2015 edition of Topps Baseball (Series 1), they shall be presented with the opportunity to randomly find McKayla Maroney gracing one of their cardboard treasures. Part of the US women’s gymnastics team that captured the gold medal at the 2012 London Summer Games, she is among a rare group of women that can boast of being featured in a baseball card set.

Maroney is featured in a randomly inserted series of cards titled “First Pitch”. As the title indicates, Topps has chosen to feature cards with a combination of celebrities and sporting heroes that have participated in first pitch ceremonies during the 2014 Major League Baseball Season.

fpmaroney1

Among three women featured in the First Pitch insert set (the others being centenarian Agnes McKee and Asian reality TV star Suzy), Maroney was part of the first pitch ceremony at Chicago’s US Cellular Field on August 1, 2014. With her card numbered FP-03, she is pictured on the front of the card in a Chicago White Sox jersey.

For the fans in attendance that day at US Cellular Field, they were on-hand for an impressive display of athletic ability. Maroney began with a leg kick, followed by a cartwheel and a front handspring. Afterwards, she released the pitch to a roar of approval from the thrilled spectators.

Of note, this was not the first time that Maroney was part of a first pitch ceremony, let alone having her image depicted on a baseball card. In 2013, Maroney (who became the first American female gymnast to successfully defend a World Championship vault title) was among a group of gymnasts who visited world famous Dodger Stadium to participate in a first pitch ceremony. During that same year, Maroney was featured in Topps’ annual Allen and Ginter baseball card set, which traditionally features athletes from other sports, along with celebrities.

Missy Franklin headlines Annual Salute to Women in Sports as Sportswoman of the Year

Having captured the hearts and minds of sports fans during the 2012 London Summer Games, swimmer Missy Franklin earned the highest honor bestowed by the 34th Annual Salute to Women in Sports hosted by the Women’s Sports Foundation at Cipriani Wall Street in Manhattan. Former WSF President Aimee Mullins and freeskier Grete Eliassen presented Franklin with the 2013 Sportswoman of the Year, Individual Sport Award.

Missy Franklin recognized as the Individual Sports Woman of the Year (Photo by Michael Loccisano)

Missy Franklin recognized as the Individual Sports Woman of the Year (Photo by Michael Loccisano)

Following her remarkable performance at London that saw her capture four gold medals and a bronze, she staked her claim as the world’s greatest female swimmer two months ago. Competing at the world championships in Barcelona, Spain, Franklin claimed a record six gold medals. Entering her freshman year at the University of California, she beat out fellow nominees Serena Williams, figure skater Mao Asada and wheelchair athlete Tatyana McFadden.

Los Angeles Sparks superstar Candace Parker grabbed the award for the 2013 Sportswoman of the Year, Team Sport Award. Having helped the Sparks to a 21-10 record during the 2013 WNBA regular season, her season was complemented by claiming the league’s MVP award and posting a league-high 25.7 points per game.

Another highlights for the WNBA was the league being recognized with the Billie Jean King Contribution Award. Founded in 1997, the league has served as an inspiration for the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and the Women’s Football Alliance, proving that women have every right to compete as professional athletes.

Vivian Hao won the Annika Inspiration Award named after golf legend Annika Sorenstam, who was also in attendance. A student at famed Duke University, she has contributed to various social causes and is also an accomplished tennis player.

Tatyana McFadden, Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Tatyana McFadden, Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

One of the true highlights of the evening was the fact that many amputee athletes (including some that have competed in the Paralympics) were in attendance. From Alana Nichols to Scout Bassett, Mallory Weggeman and Tatyana McFadden, they were also joined by Melissa Stockwell, the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award Winner. The criteria for the award is a female athlete that has displayed tremendous courage, having had the ability to overcome adversity and make significant contributions to sports

Stockwell is a true American hero. A former U.S. Army veteran and Purple Heart winner, she lost her leg during service to her country in Iraq. Rather than feel sorry for herself, she took the opportunity to embrace a new endeavor. Becoming a Paralympic swimmer and accomplished triathlete, she put it best when she stated that she has accomplished more with one leg than she ever thought she could.

With McFadden having been nominated for the Sportswoman of the Year, Individual Sport Award, it shows the positive impact women are making to the significant growth of paralympic sports. These remarkable women are a true inspiration for disabled people the world over.

(L-R) Erika Lang, Sasha DiGiulian, Grete Eliassen, Lyn-z Adams Hawkins Pastrana, Jolene Van Vugt, Amber Wing, Elena Hight, Mary Osborne, Chanelle Sladics, Kristen Ulmer and Jamie Anderson. (Getty Images)

(L-R) Erika Lang, Sasha DiGiulian, Grete Eliassen, Lyn-z Adams Hawkins Pastrana, Jolene Van Vugt, Amber Wing, Elena Hight, Mary Osborne, Chanelle Sladics, Kristen Ulmer and Jamie Anderson.
(Getty Images)

Sponsored by espnW and Gatorade, the event is a remarkable celebration of women in sport. The awards presentation was only half of the fun during a glorious evening. A remarkable red carpet to the Grand March of Athletes represented a sterling celebration for the accomplishment of women in sport. Of note, Mary Carillo and Julie Foudy co-hosted the Grand March, featuring 50 athletes.

Several heartwarming events helped define the spirit of friendship and sisterhood at the gala. Diana Nyad, who swam successfully from Cuba to Florida received a thunderous roar of approval. The recipient of a special tribute award, her commitment to making her goals come true was an inspiration.

Those in attendance also had the opportunity to peek into the future. Two junior athletes, Sam Gordon, a 10 year-old football phenomenon and Amanda Rivera from the New York Junior Tennis League, graced the stage. They were joined by four-time Winter Games hockey participant Angela Ruggiero, who discussed life lessons learned from hockey. These two future stars could not have a better mentor in Ruggiero.

Sporting hero Lolo Jones should be celebrated for her sojourn in Sochi

Having established herself as one of America’s sporting sweethearts, Lolo Jones captured the imagination of sports fans at the London 2012 Summer Games. Despite a heartbreaking finish at London, Jones put on a brave face in spite of unfair criticism by the media. This was worsened by the unfair attack by some of her track teammates who stated her attention was not always in line with her track accomplishments.

Image by Associated Press

Image by Associated Press

With a legion of fans that still admire Jones, it is exciting that her sporting journey has found a new path. Although Jones still has plans to compete at the Rio 2016 Summer Games, she has put the indoor track season on hold for an opportunity to compete in the bobsled.

The decision to compete in the event has displayed a remarkable display of character that shows a tremendous inner strength and determination on the part of Jones. The world-class athlete may have the rare opportunity to compete in the Summer and Winter Games (reminiscent of female sporting legends such as Cindy Klassen and Clara Hughes). Her involvement in the bobsled competition has also helped grown more interest in the sport.

Todd Hays, the US women’s bobsled coach, was the architect behind this unique concept. It was his decision to invite Jones, Tianna Madison, part of the 4 x 100 meter relay team at London, and Hyleas Fountain to the bobsled push championships.

Image by Associated Press

Image by Associated Press

Believing that it would help raise morale among bobsledders, Hays also had the foresight to believe that track athletes had the necessary speed and strength to push the sleds. Other celebrated athletes in the mix included Emily Azevedo, Katie Eberling and Cherrelle Garrett.

As a world class athlete, Jones embodies the spirit of dedication, discipline and the drive to be the world’s finest competitor. While bobsled should be a pleasant distraction from track that helps to provide Jones with new goals, along with the rejuvenation of her athletic spirit, there are the cynics who questioned this decision.

For those who doubted Jones ability to compete in the bobsled, she made her mark at a competition in St. Moritz, Switzerland. As part the US team that competed in a combined bobsled and skeleton event, she contributed to a gold medal victory.

Serving as the brakewoman for Elana Meyers in the women’s bobsled portion, the team registered the third-best time of the day in the event. It was a tremendous milestone for Jones as it complements the world titles she grabbed in 2008 and 2010 in the indoor 60-meter hurdles.

Despite such success, Jones has had the added distraction of continuously being under a microscope. Sadly, there will always be cynics and haters and it is an unfair yet obligatory aspect of being a world famous athlete. The opportunity to compete at Sochi should mark a remarkable effort in US women’s sporting history, yet Jones’ celebrity status occasionally makes her an unfair target.

Allegations of having been involved in an altercation with the stepdaughter of U.S. bobsled legend Tony Carlino were harsh. The incident was believed to have taken place at Lake Placid, in advance of the National Bobsled Push Championships in Calgary. While eyewitnesses confirmed that Carlino was “visibly intoxicated” and “verbally confronted” Jones, there were some who tried to put Jones in the wrong by stating the incident was covered up.

TAO/WIREIMAGE FOR BUDWEISER

TAO/WIREIMAGE FOR BUDWEISER

A more pleasant event also made national news for Jones. With Jones being one of the most popular athletes on social media, her date with Georgia college student Bubby Lyles made national news. She had agreed to the date on one unique condition; if Lyles got obtain over 150,000 retweets, he would earn his date. Surprisingly, it only took him two weeks to hit the magical mark.

As a side note, there is another pleasant fact about Jones’ sojourn for gold at Sochi. The Topps trading card company (famous for their baseball cards) has produced sports cards of the US Olympic Team. The first set was released to commemorate the US team that competed at the 2012 London Games. In following the success of that release, a new set recognizing the US team competing at Sochi 2014 is scheduled to be released in November 2013. The exciting fact is that Jones is the only athlete to have been featured on a trading card in both sets.

Trading card from the 2012 Topps trading card set recognizing athletes from the Summer Games

Trading card from the 2012 Topps trading card set recognizing athletes from the Summer Games

Heading into Sochi, she represents a unique underdog story as Olympic gold has eluded her storied career. While the Games always brings about strong feelings of national pride, Jones deserves support and not criticism. Regardless of the outcome in Sochi, Jones has shown that she is an admirable, courageous, strong woman who deserves to be considered as a role model. In the hearts and minds of her loyal fans, she will always be a champion.

Brianne Theisen Eaton emerges as Canada’s sweetheart at World Track and Field Championships

Having recently tied the knot to American-born world champion decathlete Ashton Eaton, 24 year-old Brianne Theisen-Eaton emerged as Canada’s sweetheart during the 2013 World Track and Field Championships. Her silver medal in the Heptathlon event catapulted her into the national spotlight. Having battled with a cold during part of her stay in Russia, she displayed remarkable character as she competed in seven events over a two-day span.

It was a notable event in Canadian sporting history as she became only the third Canadian female to grab a medal at the World Track and Field championships, following Priscilla Lopes-Schliep and Perdita Felicien. Hailing from Humboldt, Saskatchewan, she is the Canadian record holder in the indoor pentathlon with 4555 points.

Proudly displaying the Maple Leaf after her silver medal win (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Proudly displaying the Maple Leaf after her silver medal win (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Luzkniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia would serve as the backdrop for the first medal of her international career. Despite winning the 800-meter race (the final event), she finished a visceral 56 points behind champion Ganna Melnichenko of Ukrane, who accumulated 6586 points for the gold. Two days before she grabbed the silver, her husband grabbed the gold in the decathlon.

Of note, the 6530 points was a personal best for Theisen-Eaton. The day that she grabbed the silver marked exactly one month since the new power couple in track and field tied the knot. Earlier in the year, she accumulated 6376 points to win the 2013 Hypo Meeting in Gotzis, Austria.

Competing in the long jump (Image by Matt Dunham)

Competing in the long jump (Image by Matt Dunham)

Although she has become an overnight sensation, the road to getting there was one that consisted of great commitment. In 2007, she was the Pan American Junior Heptathlon Champion. Her first appearance in the World Championships came in 2009. Contested in Berlin, Germany, she ranked fifteenth in the Heptathlon. Three years later, she would make her Summer Games debut. Competing at London 2012, she would manage an eleventh place finish in the same event.

Competing in the long jump as Thiesen-Eaton works her way through the heptathlon events (Photo by: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Competing in the long jump as Thiesen-Eaton works her way through the heptathlon events (Photo by: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

While her July 13 marriage to Eaton is a sporting match made in heaven, their relationship dates back to their athletic tenure at the University of Oregon. Ironically, both share the same coach, Harry Marra. Of note, Marra is such an integral part of their lives that he was the pastor at their wedding ceremony. A former coach with San Francisco State for 12 years, he helped coach both of them to NCAA titles in 2010. In addition, former Oregon pole vaulter Melissa Gergel was one of the bridesmaids at the wedding, representing the strong ties to the Ducks program.

With her husband, Image from: Claus Anderson/Athletics Canada

With her husband, Image from: Claus Anderson/Athletics Canada

Her tenure at Oregon was one filled with numerous championships. The eight-time All-American at Oregon also set five school records (heptathlon, 100-meter hurdles, pentathlon, 60-meter hurdles and high jump). From 2010 to 2012, she was the NCAA Indoor Champion in the Pentathlon. In 2011, she set an NCAA record with 4,540 points.

Competing with the Oregon Ducks track and field program

Competing with the Oregon Ducks track and field program

Wearing red (third from right) as the Oregon track team graced the football field. (Image obtained from: http://www.goducks.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=500&ATCLID=1279849)

Wearing red (third from right) as the Oregon track team graced the football field. (Image obtained from: http://www.goducks.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=500&ATCLID=1279849)

During the NCAA Outdoor Championships, she grabbed titles in the Heptathlon from 2009-10 and 2012. The back-to-back victories made her the first Oregon Duck athlete to win heptathlon titles consecutively. It was a banner year in 2009 as she helped Oregon to the first conference title in track and field since 1992. She would also grab a title in the Women’s 4 X 400 meter relay during 2010 and earned the 2010 and 2011 USTFCCCA national Women’s Field Athlete of the Year Award.

With the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Ontario, Theisen-Eaton will have the opportunity to try and win her first international gold medal in front of fellow Canadians. Such a win would surely stand as one of the most cherished in her career.

Members of Canada’s bronze medal winning soccer team turn heads in Sportsnet Magazine

After making history with the Canadian women’s soccer team at the London 2012 Summer Games, Kaylyn Klye, Lauren Sesselmann and Emily Zurrer are ready for their close-up. The trio was featured in Sportsnet Magazine’s Beauty of Sports issue. With the soccer contingent winning Canada’s first medal in a Summer Games team sport this century, Canadian sports fans have a new group of heroes to cheer for.

Kaylyn Klye, Emily Zurrer and Lauren Sesselmann

Kaylyn Klye, Emily Zurrer and Lauren Sesselmann

Flown to Las Vegas, photographer Matt Barnes captured their captivating beauty throughout various Vegas venues. Kaylyn Klye, a 24-year old from Saskatoon was part of the Canadian team that also captured the gold medal at the 2011 Pan Am Games. Photographed at the Moorea Beach Club, Mandalay Bay and the Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage, Kyle modeled swimsuits from BCBGMAXAZRIA, Victoria’s Secret and Under Armour.

Originally hailing from Green Bay, Wisconsin, Lauren Sesselmann is a member of the red and white. At 29, she brings a veteran presence to the pitch. Like Kyle, she was also part of the 2011 Pan Am gold medalists. Like Kyle, some of her shots were taken at the Moorea Beach Club and the Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage, while the remainder was at Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden. In addition to swimsuits from Victoria’s Secret and Cascata, she modeled accessories from H&M, along with Target.

Emily Zurrer brings a Pacific flavor to the trio. Hailing from Crofton, British Columbia, the 26 year-old was adorned in Victoria’s Secret at the Moorea, while featuring accessories from Ray-Ban and H&M. She is also a teammate of Kyle’s with the Seattle Reign. Professionally, her career also included stops in Sweden (Dalsjofors GoIF), Germany (SG Essen-Schonebeck) and with Vancouver Whitecaps.

As a student at the University of Illinois, she was a three-time All-America selection, along with three nods to the All-Big Ten team. Like Kyle, she also has a charitable side which was evident in her involvement with Illinois’ Hometown Heroes program.

With a career that has included 50 caps with the Canadian National Team; she made her debut on July 3, 2004 at the tender age of 16. In a friendly against the United States, she played with legendary Canadian player Charmaine Hooper.

It would take another seven years before Zurrer would score her first goal for Canada. As part of a first place performance at the 2011 Cyprus Cup, it would prove to be an event to remember. Said goal was scored in a 1-0 triumph over Scotland. She would follow it up with the game-winning goal against Netherlands to clinch first place.

Born in Wisconsin, Lauren Sesselmann is a versatile player that can handle the forward and defender positions. As her father was born in Newfoundland (her mother was born in Michigan), she would claim Canadian citizenship in 2010. Although her first cap for Canada came at the age of 28, her veteran presence showed as she competed in the full 90 minutes.

Growing up, she admired Michelle Akers and Mia Hamm and would help her high school to a state championship. From 2001 to 2005, she would compete for Purdue University Boilermakers. After her collegiate career, she would hold six program records. Like Zurrer, she was also selected to the First Team All-Big Ten.

Professionally, she would compete with various franchises in the United States while accumulating 14 goals. Starring with FC Indiana in the W-League, she later moved on to the Atlanta Beat (where Hope Solo was a teammate) in Women’s Professional Soccer. This year, she is a member of FC Kansas City in the newly formed National Women’s Soccer League.

While she was also selected as the Sports Babe of the Day on the popular female sports site Babes Dig Balls, Kaylyn Kyle has a compassion that encompasses her inner beauty.

Serving as a Right To Play Ambassador, Kyle’s commitment in ensuring that the values of the best practices of sport and play can reach those in less fortunate parts of the world is a strong passion. In 2009, she was part of a fund raising effort with the National Team in which every goal scored and every shutout earned would result in a donation to Right to Play.

As a teenager, she competed with the University of Saskatchewan and made her debut for the national team in 2008 as a 19 year-old. Professionally, Kyle has competed with the Vancouver Whitecaps of the W-League (where Zurrer was a teammate in 2010), Pieta IF in Sweden’s Damallsvenskan and is a current member of the Seattle Reign in the NWSL.

While the 2012 London Summer Games was the coming-out party for Kyle, she paid her dues by representing Canada in two Under-20 World Cups. In 2008, FIFA’s Under-20 Technical Study Group noted she had excellent awareness of defensive duties, good timing of passes and composure in possession. She is one of only 26 women that have played in at least 50 games for Canada.

Looking as comfortable in a swimsuit as she does in a soccer jersey, it may come as no surprise that fashion is another of her great interests. With ambitions to be involved in the fashion industry once she hangs up her jersey for good, there is no question that the camera loves Kyle.

Photo credit to Matt Barnes

Sportsnet Magazine’s Beauty in Sport Issue captures the essence with several captivating athletes

With photo shoots ranging throughout Canada and a rigorous five day shoot in Las Vegas, Sportsnet Magazine released its second annual Beauty in Sport issue. Although some critics could dismiss the publication as competition for the ESPN Body Issue, the reality is that both give the opportunity to spotlight female athletes who toil in anonymity for little recognition.

As Sportsnet is a Canadian periodical published by Rogers, the athletes featured between the covers are all Canadian. With 28 athletes featured, 19 are female. While even the most dedicated sports fan would have difficulty identifying the names of the female athletes (and the sport they compete in), their beauty and sex appeal is only part of the package.

The one common factor among all athletes is injuries, and bumps and bruises were evident with some of the athletes. X-Games world champion Kelsey Serwa arrived with a swollen knee due to surgery. Canadian soccer sweethearts Kaylyn Klye and Emily Zurrer both had scrapes up to their thighs.

In being an athlete, the commitment involved takes great desire, and the discipline and dedication required is a unique quality. Their hard work and character displays a very strong, rugged yet admirable inner beauty that makes them role models for all athletes, male or female.

While publisher Steve Maich acknowledged that it was different working with athletes because they were not models, he was also quick to acknowledge that all the athletes were likeable people. Although many of the female athletes are not household names, there was a few that certainly left their mark in the world of sport.

Competing in the cross-country mountain biking competition at London 2012, Brooklin, Ontario’s Emily Batty was the cover girl for the issue. The blonde beauty did not medal at London, but she certainly captured the hearts and minds of many sports fans with her magnetic smile on the cover.

Three females were gold medalists at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games; Kallie Humphries, Tessa Virtue and Meaghan Mikkelson. While all three come from very different sporting backgrounds – bobsleigh, ice dancing and ice hockey – all three are authentic Canadian heroes.

Mikk Meaghan Mikkelson

Another trio of heroes highlighted the females featured in the Beauty of Sport. A tantalizing trio of members from Canada’s soccer team that gained bronze at the 2012 London Summer Games was photographed in Las Vegas. Featuring Kaylyn Klye, Lauren Sesselmann and Emily Zurrer, all three donned their swimsuits while a dolphin would leap in the background behind them.

Rugby teammates Barbara Mervin and Brittany Waters also exchanged their shorts and jerseys for swimsuits. Mervin, 31 and Waters, 30 are also members of the British Columbia provincial rugby team. The dynamic duo was photographed together at the MGM Grand and the Neon Museum.

Barbara Mervin and Brittany Waters

Barbara Mervin and Brittany Waters

Of note, Mervin is accustomed to the camera. Having played with the national team since 2004, she was also part of a nude calendar in 2012 that featured members of Canada’s women’s rugby team.

While she leaves enough for the imagination, it is important to emphasize that Swervin Mervin (as she is affectionately known) is more than just beautiful. There is an even greater beauty beneath the surface. Having transitioned from 15s to 7s, she spends a remarkable five hours a day in training. She is an empowering woman whose great sense of teamwork, assistance with summer camps and coaching at the University of Victoria comprise makes her a role model for young women looking to get into sport.

Of all the athletes that ventured down to Las Vegas, the most unique may have been Summer Mortimer.
Mortimer Summer Mortimer

After a trampoline accident caused significant damage to the bones in her feet, she displayed great courage by learning to swim again. Having won four medals at the 2012 London Paralympic Games, she was one of Canada’s sweethearts at the event. Along with five world records in para-swimming, she was also named an Athlete Ambassador for the 2015 Toronto Parapan Games. Appropriately, she grew up near Toronto in Burlington. At 20 years old, not only does she conduct herself with a quiet dignity and grace that makes her an admirable athlete, but she was one of the youngest athletes featured in the publication.

While she is the first paralympic athlete to appear in the Beauty of Sport, it is worth noting that the ESPN Body Issue has also featured physically challenged athletes. As Swimming World Magazine stated in a review of Mortimer appearing in the issue, athletes are not only a vision of health, but these kinds of photo shoots promote a healthy lifestyle and set a positive example.

Six other athletes were photographed at Las Vegas. Among the group, it included volleyball player Claire Hanna, a three-time CIS national champion with the UBC Thunderbirds. Forty year-old curler Heather Smith-Dacey and Kelsey Serwa, who competed in the Ski Cross at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games was photographed at Red Rock Canyon.

World Cup skeleton champion Melissa Hollingsworth, a bronze medalist from the Torino Winter Games was photographed at the MGM Grand. Joining her at the venue was 2012 FIS World Cup gold medal skier Erin Mielzynski.

Four other athletes from this remarkable group of women were photographed in Toronto. A pair of track and field sensations, Brianne Theisen and Phylicia George was photographed at Monarch Park. George finished in the 100 meter hurdles at London 2012, while Theisen competed in the Heptathlon.
Sarah Wells, a competitor in the 400-meter hurdles at London 2012 modeled Nike (like George) for her photo shoot. Taylor Pischke, a beach volleyball player with six Canadian national titles was photographed wearing Miss Jackson swimwear at Ashbridges Bay.

Credit goes to Maich who acknowledged that compared to other countries, Canada needed to do a better job at elevating their athletes to star status. While fans may already be anticipating the 2014 edition, there is no question that the athletes featured are helping to shed a positive light on Canadian sport.

Photos of Summer Mortimer, Barbara Mervin and Brittany Waters and Meaghan Mikkelson by Matt Barnes

Proud athletic background to be characteristic of second Royal Baby on the way

While the world celebrates the arrival of William and Kate’s newborn baby boy, George Alexander Louis, there is another Royal baby that will soon arrive also. Zara Phillips, a medalist at the 2012 London Summer Games, is the granddaughter of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Currently pregnant, her child will also be part of the House of Windsor’s royal bloodline.

Having won European and World champions in equestrian events, she earned a silver medal in Equestrian at London 2012 – awarded to her by her mother. The London Games marked her first appearance competing in the Summer Games.

Appropriately, the debut for Phillips came on home soil. With cousins William and Harry, along with other Royal Family members, including her mother, grandfather, along with Prince Charles and Camilla cheering her on from the VIP section, it was a once-in-a-lifetime moment. The competition was held at Greenwich Park, London’s oldest royal park.

Of note, both of her parents were former Summer Games competitors. Her mother Princess Anne participated in the 1976 Montreal Games, while her father, Captain Mark Phillips won medals 16 years apart. He would win gold at the 1972 Munich Games while claiming a silver at the 1988 Seoul Games.
Sitting fifteenth in line to the throne, the 32-year-old is also expecting a child. Married to former English rugby union player Mike Tindall, the 2006 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award Winner is expecting her child in March 2014. Having met Tindall in 2003 when England claimed the Rugby World Cup, the two tied the knot on July 30, 2011.

Her child (which shall be the second cousin to George Alexander Louis) shall be sixteenth in line to the throne. The aforementioned Princess Anne is eleventh in line, while her brother is twelfth, respectively.

While Zara does not hold a royal title herself, there is no denying that the royal bloodline in question (this baby shall mark the fourth great grandchild for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II) carries with it great prestige. Although Zara’s child will not grow up in a palace like George Alexander Louis, the birth will be an event that will be newsworthy throughout the British Commonwealth.

The role of mother will add to an already impressive list of endeavors, ranging from serving as Royal Patron to Cancer Research UK to designing equestrian outfits for Musto Outdoor Clothing. While all signs point to a royal baby with a normal upbringing, there is no question that Zara’s plunge into athletics, charitable work and worthy causes makes her more than just a mother, but a great role model.

Carli Lloyd plays the game of her life

Following in the footsteps of legends like Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy, and Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd scored the two biggest goals of her career. In what was the game of her life, the 30 year old from New Jersey logged a goal in each half, as the US climbed to a 2-0 lead over Japan at Wembley Stadium. Despite a late goal by Japan, the US would clinch the gold medal at the 2012 London Summer Games.

This would not mark the first time that Lloyd would score big goals in Summer Games play. At the 2008 Beijing Games, she scored the game winning goal in a 1-0 victory against Japan. She would notch the gold medal winning goal in overtime versus Brazil. She would be named the US Women’s Soccer Player of the Year for 2008. While playing in the shadows of more popular players such as Alex Morgan and Hope Solo, she has quietly built a world class career that would be the envy of players worldwide.

With the tension of having lost the 2011 World Cup to Japan, Lloyd and her teammates faced tremendous pressure. The eighth minute of the 2012 Gold Medal match resulted in Lloyd’s first goal, a header off a pass from Alex Morgan that was meant for Abby Wambach. Before halftime, Lloyd nearly scored again but the Japanese goalkeeper Fukumoto made an impressive save to deny Lloyd. With nine minutes gone in the second half, Lloyd ran approximately 30 yards before launching a shot that resulted in the second score of the game.

Despite strong performances by Japanese players Saki Kumagai, Yuki Ogimi and Aya Miyama, a repeat of their championship performance at the 2011 FIFA World Cup was not meant to be. For Lloyd, the road to victory at London 2012 was marked by other goals.

At the Summer Games Qualifying tournament in Vancouver, British Columbia, Lloyd made her presence felt. In a Group B Match versus Mexico, the US bested them by a 4-0 tally, marked by Lloyd’s first career hat trick. In addition, she was named player of the match. For Lloyd, the honours would not end there. With a 3-0 defeat of Costa Rica in the semi-final of the Qualifying Tournament, Lloyd was named player of the match once more. She would finish with six goals (tied for the team lead) and three helpers, as the US went undefeated.

For Lloyd, her time in the spotlight was long overdue. The former Rutgers Scarlet Knights soccer star (named 2001 Big East Rookie of the Year), has had 141 caps with 40 goals with the US women’s team. The year 2007 marked the dawn of Lloyd’s presence as a prime time player. She was the top scorer and most valuable player at the 2007 Algarve Cup. In addition, she played in the 2007 FIFA World Cup, a first for her. In starting three first round games, she would finish the World Cup third on the team in scoring, with nine tallies and three assists.

She competed for the Chicago Red Stars in the first season of Women’s Professional Soccer in 2009. Despite making 14 starts, she scored two goals and recorded an assist.  At the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup she scored her first ever goal in World Cup play during a 3-0 win versus Colombia. Lloyd also left her mark in one of the most dramatic and exciting World Cup games ever played. After fighting back from a 2-1 deficit to force overtime against Brazil, Lloyd had a penalty kick against the Brazilians, which would help the US advance to the semifinals. A harbinger of things to come, Lloyd would deliver the goods once again in a golden day of retribution.