Competitive Clubs

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Students travel to France to represent Canada at international competition

Photo by Rich Webster

Marika Kay, Jenna Pelham, and Lilianne Page are living the dream as they prepare to represent Canada in an international rowing competition in France.

The three Gee-Gees will row for Team Canada this September during the University Rowing Championships at the Aa River in the countryside of northern France.

The group of friends all completed their undergraduate degrees in chemistry, but each has a different athletic background.

Kay, Pelham, and Page were all athletes in elementary and high school. Kay grew up interested in running, Pelham loved to play soccer and swim, and Page even has some experience in a canoe.

When the crew first met, they wanted to continue their athletic careers but try something new.

Page happened upon the rowing webpage and simply thought, “Why not?” It didn’t take her long to fall in love with the sport.

“I knew coming into university, I wanted to be part of a sports team, but realized I probably wasn’t good enough to make a varsity team,” she says.

Kay graduated in 2013, Pelham just graduated from teacher’s college, and Page is currently in year two of her master’s in geology.

Making the Canadian rowing team has been a long-term goal for these girls.

They’ve been training together for a number of years, persisting despite setbacks, and pushing through close cuts from different teams. This will be the first time all three will compete together internationally wear- ing the maple leaf.

“It’s an honour to wear the maple leaf, it’s not something that everyone gets to do,” says Kay. “It’s not something we take lightly.”

The crew trained hard before being selected and kept up their training throughout the summer. All three train twice a day, and at least once on the water.

They say rowing is much different from other sports.

“The ratio to training and racing is extremely high,” says Kay. “We race three times a year, and train 12 months a year.”

They say they’re confident this is only the beginning of a career on the global stage. Canadians are very strong internationally in rowing, so they hope to represent not only Ottawa, but Canada too.

“This is our first step onto the world stage and this is not a final step,” says Page.

“We just want to soak it all in, soak in the international experience,” she added. “Our goal is not just make this team, but to stand up on that podium. Our goal is to obtain a gold for Canada.”