Photos: Michelle Ferguson & Richard A. Whittaker.
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Watcham-Roy wins Olympic bronze on the pitch, Makinde 4x100m bronze reserve

Every two years, the world is enthralled with Olympic fever. Be it the summer or winter games, there’s something about the best athletes on earth coming together in competition that gets people excited.

This year, athletes from far and wide descended upon Rio de Janeiro to compete at the summer games—and some of Canada’s team members represented the University of Ottawa on the world stage.

Four former Gee-Gees donned the red and white in Brazil, one received a medal, while one missed out on hardware, but was a member of a winning squad.

Former Gees star Natasha Watcham-Roy made her presence known in the rugby sevens tournament, scoring a try in an early 45-0 blowout win over Japan.

Although Watcham-Roy had a smaller role on the team, she still contributed on both sides of the ball throughout the tournament, including a 33-10 win over Great Britain to clinch a bronze medal for Canada and the U of O.

Sprinter Oluwasegun “Segun” Makinde was a hometown star for the Gees during his tenure at the U of O. Now, his teammates in the 4x100m relay are bronze medalists, as a reserve, he didn’t participate so will not bring home a physical medal.

Makinde had the opportunity to go to London in 2012 as a reserve while he was still a student. Unfortunately, the Canadians did not medal after they were disqualified from the race.

This year, led by breakout star Andre De Grasse, the six-man relay team defied odds and medaled thanks to the United States’ dramatic disqualification.

Canada has been historically tortured in the event since their astonishing gold medal run in 1996. Since then, heartbreaking disqualifications have been commonplace. Instead of being burned this time around, they benefited from what has hurt them so many times.

Although the former Gee-Gee didn’t get to actually race for the bronze, he was a valuable member of the team as an alternate.

The being a part of the bronze team is extra sweet when looking back to 2012 and how his expectations somewhat became reality.

In an interview with the Fulcrum after the London games, Makinde highlighted what his hopes for Rio were.

“I expect to hopefully be on the podium … the hope is to come home with more than one medal in 2016. That’s what I’m working for,” said the sprinter.

Although he is technically returning to Canada without a medal, he is likely not disappointed being a part of a massive moment for his nation.

Makinde graduated from the Telfer School of Management in 2014 and can now add an Olympic bronze medal to his already impressive resume.

Makinde’s former Gee-Gees teammate, hurdler Sekou Kaba, achieved his lifelong dream of representing his country on the biggest stage.

Participating in the 110m hurdles, Kaba posted a time of 18.70 seconds, good enough for 28th raking overall. Unfortunately, his time tied with Antwon Hicks of Nigeria who nabbed the last semifinal qualifying spot, leaving Kaba out of medal contention.

After his heat, Kaba took to Twitter to express his feelings and gratitude for the support given by his fellow Canadians.

“Tried 2 put on a front but failed to hold back tears. I’ve never felt support like this. Thank u guys sooo much. Will do better next time!” wrote the Guinea-born 25-year old, who graduated from the U of O in 2015.

Gee-Gees competitive clubs also had representation in Rio with rower Cristy Nurse, who spent time with the Gees during her tenure at the U of O’s Faculty of Law, of which she graduated in 2013.

Nurse, a leader on the women’s coxed eight squad, assisted Canada in earning an appearance in the finals in her first Olympics.

In their heats, Canada narrowly missed automatic qualification in their very competitive heat, finishing third of the three countries. In the ‘repechage’ heat, where teams that didn’t win their heat have a chance to qualify, Canada easily beat the field by nearly five seconds, giving themselves strong chance in the medal finals.

After finishing behind Canada in the repechage, Romania and New Zealand stormed ahead in the finals and crushed Nurse’s hope at a medal as she pulled into fifth.

Regardless of the end result, placing fifth in the world is something the team can be proud of, and there’s plenty of expectation for the Canadians to contend for a medal at the next summer games in Tokyo.

Now that the Rio summer games are over, future olympians are already preparing for competitive athletics this year at the U of O. Whether it’s the next winter Olympics in Pyeongchang or the 2020 summer games in Tokyo, there will continue to be Gee-Gees that strive for a trip to the Olympics.

For now, it’s best to get familiar with names in garnet and grey, because it won’t be long before you see them representing Canada in red and white.