At the start of last week, the Yukon had only ever won two medals at the Canada Summer Games – both in cycling. But by the closing ceremonies on Saturday, the territory had six, thanks to Whitehorse’s
On Friday, Gabor, 16, completed her stay in Charlottetown, PEI winning her fourth medal of the Games, a bronze in the 800-metre freestyle. She began the Games winning a bronze in the 100-free on Tuesday,
and the following day won the Yukon’s first-ever gold in the 400-free.
As an encore, she won gold in the 200-free on Thursday.
Like all great athletes in the face of great achievement, she is still focused on improving, with perfection being a constant goal.
“I could have got a silver, it just didn’t work out – the finish wasn’t very good,” said Gabor of the 800-free. “I have things to improve on next year.”
The one individual event Gabor failed to reach the podium for was the 50-metre freestyle on Friday. She finished fifth. However, she prefers the longer races, like the 200-, 400- and 800-free, but having the 800-
free at the end of the week may have impaired her results, she said.
“I think at the end of the meet it was the best I could have done,” said Gabor. “If it was at the beginning of the meet, I’m sure I could have gone a lot faster, maybe won a gold medal.”
People at the Games – unfamiliar with Gabor’s illustrious history in the sport, having broken a total of 57 BC swim records, plus 11 Canadian records, and competed on Team Canada at the World Aquatic
Championships in July, to name just a few accomplishments – were surprised by her outstanding medal haul. But there was little surprise coming from Team Yukon head swim coach Marek Poplawski.
“We expected that,” said Poplawski. “She had five (individual) races and she did four best times – it’s a fantastic performance. The Yukon had its best-ever results.”
“I did a lot better than last time I was at the Games – I got an eighth (place finish),” said Gabor. “(My previous Games) definitely ramped up my experience levels.
“I think the Yukon team was great. All the people on the other teams, they’re all great competitors. It’s nice to race competitors that can test you.”
The Yukon also had modest successes in boys’ and open-water events.
Yukon’s Tanner Cassidy managed to secure a spot in the B finals for the 1,500-metre freestyle, taking fourth (12th overall).
“He was racing a couple guys that are faster than him and he beat them,” said Poplawski.
Also making B finals was Brice Harding, advancing in the boys’ 50-free and finishing in eighth place (16th overall).
“I had a great time and it was good to experience that competition level,” said Harding.
“I thought the turn could be better but all in all it was pretty good – I got a best time, so I can’t complain.”
The swim events were held in a 25-metre pool at the CARI Complex, so even the 50-metre events require a turn and a change in breathing patterns.
“Since there’s no turn (in a 50-metre pool) you usually don’t have to take a breath at all,” said Harding. “In the 50-free I take one breath in the short pool, in the long pool I don’t.”
The Yukon had three swimmers entered in the open-water event, a 10-kilomtre race Saturday morning. Taking 13th and 14th were Hayley Bielz and Erin Oliver-Beebe.
Making Bielz’s finish remarkable, like all of hers at the Games, was that she was competing with a broken bone in her foot, sustained during a practice.
“(It was bothering me) a little bit,” said Bielz. “But once you get going you just block it out and swim.
“I take it out of the cast and tape it up.”
“Everybody did very well,” said Poplawski. “All the swimmers did best times – two, three or four (best times).
“It’s not medals that is important. I told them before the meet; the best you can do is to do best times and they delivered.”
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com