By Dan Plouffe
Two Ottawa modern pentathletes are after breakthrough results at their sport’s final world championships before next summer’s Olympics, and both Melanie McCann and Mathea Stevens feel that’s exactly what they can achieve at the Sept. 8-14 competition in Moscow.
“I didn’t make finals last year, so that’s definitely my number one goal this year,” says McCann, who needs a top-12 result in her semi-final pool to advance to the final 36. “I’m feeling pretty good in all my events.”
Following after a stint in Calgary, the 21-year-old Park Hill, Ont. native moved next door to Carleton University last fall so that she could work with national team coach John Hawes of Stittsville on a daily basis.
“I live exactly seven minutes from the pool,” smiles McCann, who begins her training with Hawes’ Ravens of Carleton club at 6 a.m. “Every swimmer knows that so you can sleep in right until 5:21.”
Besides Hawes’ presence, McCann also chose to come to Ottawa since it offered new fencing partners, the chance for swimming improvements, and greater shooting coaching.
It seems to have paid off – McCann says she feels stronger than ever in swimming before a meet, her running fitness is close behind, she’s worked hard and seen improvements in the combined (shooting and run) event, she’s attended several high-performance fencing camps recently, and gets out riding every once in awhile to prepare for equestrian.
“It’s been good so far,” McCann adds. “Hectic, but I really enjoy the training and all my new training partners, so I’m quite happy here.”
Stevens was more than pleased to welcome McCann to the fold.
“I’ve been training for years here in Ottawa on my own,” notes the 19-year-old from Rockland. “Mel just moved here last year, so already it was like, ‘Wow, a training partner!’ It’s something new, and it’s nice.”
McCann and Stevens train together every day, from between 2-4 sessions for their different sports, mentoring each other since they have almost opposite strengths and weaknesses.
“There’s also the competition time – we’re always sharing a room or traveling together,” adds Stevens, who will also compete in November’s world junior championships in Argentina. “We’re like sisters.”
Like McCann, Stevens is targeting a place in the world finals after missing out last year in her first worlds trip.
“It’s going to be an exciting competition,” Stevens says, emphasizing that its status as an Olympic qualifier makes it even bigger. “I’m hoping for a good result. If I manage to put in the performance I’m capable of, then I think I could do really well.”