Photo: U of O Sports Services.
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The U of O will be well represented in Naples, Italy

A record nine University of Ottawa student athletes are representing Canada this week and next at the International University Sports Federation’s Summer Universiade in Naples, Italy. The event takes place every two years and sees over 9,000 student athletes from 128 different countries compete in 18 different sports.

The Gee-Gees women’s soccer team will lead the way after winning the U Sports national championship in November 2018, with four of its players selected by the Canadian national team. Thea Abdul Nour, Kayla Da Costa-Pacheco, Miranda Smith and Katherine Bearne will all wear the Maple Leaf in Naples. 

The women’s rugby team will also be well represented as third-year centre Rachel McCallan starts for the Canadian team and Sarah Keindal will be the teams’ athletic therapist.

This is Ottawa-born McCallan’s first Universiade. She won bronze this year with the women’s rugby team and scored four tries in the process.

Rounding out the Gee-Gee contingent will be fifth-year swimmer Montana Champagne, fourth-year basketball centre Angela Ribarich and fourth-year rugby back James Flemming. 

Champagne, a two-time gold medalist at the 2018-19 U Sports Championships, will be participating in his first Universiade. 

Ribarich a 6-foot-5 centre from Toronto, averaged 11 points for the Gee-Gees in the 2018-19 season and was second in the country with 44 blocks.

Flemming was first in tries scored for the Gee-Gees last season with four. Following the announcement of his selection he spoke to the Fulcrum about what it meant to him to be selected to the national rugby team and what he’s looking forward to in Naples.

“It means a lot, if you looked back at the neighbourhood I grew up in and at me 10 years ago, there’s no way you’d guess I would be at this point now,’’ said Flemming, adding that he’ll “obviously do whatever it takes to win, enjoy the cultural experience, and try to network with many other athletes.”

Flemming also discussed how his selection will help the U of O men’s rugby program continue to grow 

‘’From a Gee-Gees standpoint, our team was fairly irrelevant in the eyes of many three years ago when I got here, so it’s nice to be a part of the process that gets it on the map — hopefully more Gee-Gees will get their name called in the future.”

On the white-collar side of things, Roger Archambeault, former U of O assistant director of high performance will be the mission chief for the Canadian delegation at the games. Archambeault spent 3.5 years with the Gee-Gees overseeing program development. 

The 30th edition of the Summer Universiade runs until July 14.