By Dan Plouffe
Local water polo players Bogdan Djerkovic, Diego Gonzalez and Valeria Rojas won bronze medals from the 17U Pan American Championships and qualified Canada for next summer’s FINA Youth World Championships thanks to their performances at the June 29-July 9 event in Peru.
Djerkovic, who will soon also compete alongside Ottawa Titans teammate Aleksa Gardijan at the Junior World Championships Aug. 5-13 in Serbia, was the hero in the Canadian men’s bronze medal match, completing his hat trick for the game-winning goal with just over a minute left to play in a 13-12 victory over Colombia. Djerkovic totalled 13 goals in 6 games at the Pan Ams, while Gonzalez scored 4 times.
Taking part in the tournament in his hometown of Lima, Capital Wave club head coach Celso Rojas also celebrated the bronze medal win as an assistant for the men’s team, while his daughter Valeria scored a matching bronze from the women’s competition.
Valeria counted 15 goals in 8 games for the Canadians, who dominated all opponents except for the gold and silver medallists from USA and Brazil. Following a 10-9 semi-final defeat to Brazil, Canada rebounded to trounce Argentina 17-6 for bronze.
“The girls showed a lot of character coming back and playing this way after a disappointing semi,” Team Canada head coach Dan Bekhazi, who coached for Capital Wave locally in 2015, said in a media release. “Overall this tournament was a great learning experience for the girls. They learnt about playing a physical type of style and competing until the end. They showed a lot of resilience, which made the coaching staff proud. They were also able to live and learn about what being an elite athlete truly is, inside and outside of the pool.”
The Wave also made a big addition to their coaching staff last month, hiring Michel Roy, who’s coached 8 Olympians during his career and is the only Canadian to have coached both the senior men’s and women’s national teams.
“Michel brings over 30 years of professional coaching experience to Capital Wave and he cannot wait to increase the water polo level in the National Capital Region,” the club noted in a statement. “We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Michel to our Capital Wave coaching staff and family!”
Gaudreault into World Championships Final-4
Fresh off a World League silver medal, goalkeeper Jessica Gaudreault and the Canadian senior women’s water polo team kept up their hot pace at the July 14-30 FINA World Championships in Hungary.
The Canadians lost their tournament-opener 10-4 to Italy, but rediscovered their form quickly to beat China 9-8 and Brazil 16-6 to advance to the playoff round where they trounced New Zealand 16-3 and got past the host Hungarians 6-4 to book their place in the July 26 semi-final.
Ottawa native Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson earned a career-best result on the global senior swimming stage with an 11th-place finish in the women’s 200-metre individual medley on July 23.