By Melissa Novacaska
The Rideau Canoe Club held its annual Canada Day International Regatta again this year, bringing athletes from around the world to the Ottawa event that doubled as the East Sprint Canada Cup.
Over 230 canoers and kayakers from parts of Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Manitoba, the United States, Argentina and Madagascar competed at this year’s event.
Roughly 62 Rideau athletes participated, with about 10 of them competing under the Team Ontario banner.
Hodgson-Pageau sinks competition
One of the club’s top competitors at the event was Ontario team athlete and canoer Ella Hodgson-Pageau. She came in 1st place in four races, including the U18 Women C-2 500m with partner Kate Pennyfather, with Pennyfather in the U18 Women C-2 200m race, with Pennyfather, Clara Gibbon and Evie McDonald in the U18 Women IC4 500m, and solo in the U18 Women C-1 200m race.
The 15-year-old who won a pair of medals at last year’s Olympic Hopes Regatta in Poland was also chosen as to compete for Team Canada over the next few months, which will take her back to the Olympic Hopes Regatta, which this year will be held in Slovakia. She’ll also don the Maple Leaf for the Junior World Championships this summer in Romania.
Hodgson-Pageau only started paddling when she was around 11, but this was her third summer competing in Rideau’s Canada Cup.
While she says she used to feel “scared” to race older athletes and competitors from other countries, she’s matured beyond that now.
“It’s cool to race against people from different countries,” Hodgson-Pageau said. “It’s so cool to just see people from all around the world [come] to my home.”
According to Hodgson-Pageau, both her parents were canoers – including her mom for Rideau – and they both encouraged her to pick up the sport.
“I actually didn’t really want to do it at first, [but] I did the summer and I loved it, so I’ve been doing it ever since then,” Hodgson-Pageau said.
She had only competed in two regattas this season prior to the Canada Cup, but she said it’s gone “pretty well” so far.
Last year was the first opportunity Hodgson-Pageau had to race internationally, an experience she called “exciting.”
Through the sport of canoeing, Hodgson-Pageau says she’s built a lot of friendships, as well as learned valuable lessons about perseverance and effort.
“It’s made me kind of learn that if you want to do something, you really have to put in the hours and put in the work to do it. I come here every single day. Before and after school. You have to decide you want to do it and then do everything.”
Though she’s got lofty goals – like making the Canadian Olympic Team, continuing to race for Team Canada and competing at the Senior World Championships – she’s now focused on other events.
“Now [I’m] just trying to focus on junior worlds and nationals and see where it goes,” she said.
On top of Hodgson-Pageau’s Canada Cup victory, other Rideau Canoe Club members were up on the podium, including kayaker Jacob Price, who also represents Team Ontario. He came 2nd in the U18 Men K-1 100m, 1st alongside partner Adam Baird in the U18 Men K-2 200m and 1st in the U18 Men K-4 500m alongside Adam Baird, Jason Burkholder and Aidan Dumont. Price was also chosen to represent Canada at September’s Slovakian-held Hopes Regatta.
Kayaker Maren Bradley, also from the Rideau Canoe Club and of Team Ontario, finished 1st in the U18 Women K1 500m, 1st alongside partner Toshka Besharah in the U18 Women K-2 500m and 1st in the U18 Women K-4 500m with Toshka Besharah, Erin Demopolis and Brooke Westwater. She also came 2nd with Toshka Besharah in the U18 Women K-2 200m. Bradley will also attend this year’s Junior World Championships in Romania.
Though this year’s Canada Cup was a success, Rideau Canoe Club executive director Hector Carranco said next year’s event could bring even more excitement, due to the fact that the club will host the 2020 Sprint Canoe Kayak National Championships from Aug 25-30, 2020.
“We hope people from Ottawa get excited for what we do.” Carranco said. “Next year, the excitement will be here, which we invite people from Ottawa to come and watch and/or help.”
The good news keeps rolling for the club, which had 10 of its athletes chosen to represent Canada in the coming months at the Senior World Championships, Junior World Championships, Pan Am Games and Olympic Hopes Regatta. Along with Hodgson-Pageau, Bradley and Price were also chosen for Team Canada.