Several GTA athletes expect to impact Commonwealth Games

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Though some athletes have pulled out of the upcoming 2010 Commonwealth Games because of health and safety concerns, the 12-day event will still feature many top talents.

The Canadian contingent has been arriving in New Delhi, India over the past few days and will be ready when the Games begin on Oct. 3.

Toronto and its surrounding areas will be well represented, as 34 athletes from the city will be competing in Delhi.

Some local athletes to look out for include field hockey player Ken Pereira, squash player Shahier Razik, and swimmer Annamay Pierse.

Pereira will be leading his country into the Games as the flag bearer at the opening ceremony. He has plenty of international experience and will captain the men’s field hockey team.

Razik is Canada’s top-ranked squash player and could be the country’s best hope at a medal.

Meanwhile, Pierse will lead the red-and-white’s aquatics team into the pool as the current world-record holder in the 200-metre breaststroke.

Here is the complete list of GTA athletes who will be competing at the 2010 Commonwealth Games:

ARCHERY

CRISPIN DUENAS
Event: Men’s Recurve bow
Hometown: Toronto
Age: 24

Duenas represented Canada in both the men’s and team archery at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. One of his major career achievements is the silver medal, obtained along with his team at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro.

ANDREW FAGAN
Event: Men’s Compound bow
Hometown: Ajax
Age: 24

Fagan is the lone original member of the Commonwealth Games men’s compound bow team, after Kevin Tataryn and Dietmar Trillus withdrew from competition due to safety concerns. His best world ranking was 95th that came on Aug. 16, 2010. He currently sits 99th. The former Junior A hockey player finished 13th at the 2008 Pan American Championships, and more recently placed ninth in stage three of the Archery World Cup 2010.

ALANA MACDOUGALL

Event: Women’s Recurve bow
Hometown: Scarborough
Age: 24

MacDougall competed at the Ontario Spring Classic archery competition among 94 other archers from Canada. She is currently ranked 136th in the world.

KATERI VRAKKING

Event: Women’s Recurve bow
Hometown: Etobicoke
Age: 37

Vrakking represented Canada at the 2007 Rio de Janeiro Pan Am Games, where she won a silver medal in the women’s team recurve bow competition and placed 17th in the individual event.

ATHLETICS

TABIA CHARLES

Event: Long jump and Triple jump
Hometown: Pickering
Age: 25

Charles’s personal best is 6.82 metres in long jump and 14.02 m in triple jump. She is currently the national champion in both of those events, and also was the Canadian title-holder for the two disciplines in 2006 and 2007. The former University of Miami student finished 10th in long jump at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and will be competing in her first Commonwealth Games.

NICOLE FORRESTER

Event: High Jump
Hometown: Aurora
Age: 33

Forrester’s trip to New Delhi will be her second Commonwealth Games, after winning a bronze medal at 2002 edition. She has plenty of experience at the international level, having also attended the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and three Pan Am Games, winning silver in 2007 and a bronze in 1999. Canada’s seven-time national champion in the long jump is also currently a PhD candidate in sports psychology at Michigan State University.

KYLE PETTEY

Event: F34 Shot Put
Hometown: Brampton
Age: 27

Pettey is currently ranked No. 1 in the world – classified for those with moderate to severe control issues in lower limbs. He has attended three Paralympics – winning a bronze medal in 2008, finishing 10th in 2004, and securing a silver in 2000. His personal best of 11.24 metres is also the world record. He obtained that mark on June 12, 2010 at an invitational meet in Sherbrooke, Que.

JASON WURSTER

Event: Pole Vault
Hometown: Toronto
Age: 26

Wurster’s personal best is 5.50 metres in the pole vault. The current Canadian champion attended the University of Toronto where he was one of its top varsity athletes. In 2007-2008 he was named to the CIS first team all-Canadian. Besides winning the national title this summer, he also won gold at the 2010 Ontario Summer Games.

BADMINTON

ALEXANDRA BRUCE

Event: Women’s Doubles
Hometown: Toronto
Age: 20

While Bruce will be attending her first Commonwealth Games this summer, she did participate in the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games, where she won a silver medal in doubles with her partner Michelle Li. Bruce and Li are currently the 80th ranked doubles team in the world.

JOYCELYN KO

Event: Women’s Singles
Hometown: Toronto
Age: 24

Ko is a former Ryerson student who won two Ontario University Athletics awards in badminton, Rookie of the Year in 2004-2005 and MVP in 2007-2008. She won her first high-level tournament in 2009 (the Miami Pan Am International) and was a member of the gold medal-winning teams at the 2008 and 2009 Pan Am Championships. She is currently ranked 79th in the world in singles.

MICHELLE LI

Event: Women’s Singles and Doubles
Hometown: Toronto
Age: 18

Li is the current national under-23 singles champion and doubles finalist. On the Badminton Canada website, she lists reaching the top-50 in the world by the end of 2010 as one of her goals. At 66th in singles, she sits just 16 spots away from her goal. She plays doubles with Alexandra Bruce, and together they won a silver medal at 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games.

BOXING

COLIN FISH

Event: 81 kg (Light Heavyweight)
Hometown: Oshawa
Age: 20

Fish moved to Mississauga at the age of 11 to focus on boxing and is now coached by 1992 Olympic bronze medalist Chris Johnson. This year at the nationals in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que., Fish won the 81-kilogram division and he was named best boxer of the tournament.

CYCLING

MICHAEL BARRY

Event: Men’s Road Race
Hometown: Toronto
Age: 34

Barry is an experienced cyclist who is currently racing with Team Sky. He raced in the Tour de France for the first time this summer, and finished 99th out of 170 racers. He was one of just two Canadians in the field. Other accomplishments include finishing ninth in the road race at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. He suffered two broken ribs earlier in September but was able to race in the Queen’s Park Grand Prix in Toronto on Sept. 19.

FIELD HOCKEY

AZELIA LIU

Event: Women’s Team
Hometown: Scarborough
Age: 31

Liu is the goalkeeper of the Canadian field hockey team. Liu was selected to the junior women’s national team after the 1999 national camp and series against the United States junior team. Liu first played with the senior national team in the 2002 European Tour in Scotland and Wales.

KEEGAN PEREIRA

Event: Men’s Team
Hometown: Ajax
Age: 19

Pereira plays forward and midfield, and has been involved with the national team program since 2007. He suited up for Canada at this year’s World Cup, and also plays on the University of Victoria Vikes field hockey team. This will be his first Commonwealth Games.

KEN PEREIRA

Event: Men’s Team
Hometown: Unionville
Age: 37

Pereira is a remarkable field hockey player and was chosen to carry the Canadian flag at the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games. Pereira has earned over 300 international caps for Canada, and plays professionally in the Netherlands. He is a four-time Pan American Games medalist, winning two gold and two silvers. He represented Canada in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

GYMNASTICS

TARIQ DOWERS

Event: Artistic Gymnastics
Hometown: Mississauga
Age: 16

Dowers has competed in several events around the country and also in Australia. He obtained first place in four different disciplines at the Canadian Championship in 2009 in Hamilton, Ont. Those events include the individual all around, floor, pommel horse and rings.

LAWN BOWLS

STEVE MCKERIHEN

Event: Triples
Hometown: Toronto
Age: 53

McKerihen has been lawn bowling for 45 years – he first played at the Toronto Boulevard Club in 1965 – and has been a member of the national team since 2004. He was a silver medalist in triples at the 2007 Asia Pacific Championships, and previously participated in the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

FRED WALLBANK

Event: Triples
Hometown: Toronto
Age: 58

Wallbank is a four-time national champion and the current Canadian titleholder in fours alongside his teammates Steve McKerihen, David Anderson, and John Devonshire.

RUGBY SEVENS

JOHN MOONLIGHT

Event: Rugby Sevens
Hometown: Pickering
Age: 23

Backrow Moonlight received his first call-up to Sevens in March last year to attend the IRB Sevens Series in Hong Kong. Moonlight also played for the Wilfred Laurier University and was honoured as the rookie of the year in the 2005-06 season.

SHOOTING

DES VAMPLEW

Event: Fullbore rifle
Hometown: Scarborough
Age: 55

Vamplew has been around the world representing Canada in many shooting events.

SQUASH

ROBIN CLARKE

Event: Men’s singles, doubles, mixed doubles
Hometown: Toronto
Age: 24

Clarke finished seventh at the 2010 Canadian national championships and is currently ranked 79th in the world. He has had some success this year on the pro tour, winning the Costa Rica Open on Sept. 11. The Ottawa-born Clarke also helped Canada win a team silver medal at the 2007 Pan American Games.

STEPHANIE EDMISON

Event: Women’s singles, mixed doubles
Hometown: Toronto
Age: 23

Edmison is a former University of Western student, where she became a three-time CIS champion in squash. She is currently the 73rd best player in the world, her highest ever ranking. The Commonwealth Games will be her third time representing Canada at the international level – the other two being the 2006 Pan Am Championships and the 2008 World University Games.

MIRANDA RANIERI

Event: Women’s singles, doubles
Hometown: Toronto
Age: 24

Ranieri is heading to her first Commonwealth Games as the reigning national champion. Currently she is ranked 49th in the world, putting her as the second highest Canadian behind Winnipeg’s Alana Miller. Though this will be her first Commonwealth Games, she reached the semi-finals of the 2008 Pan American Championships.

SHAHIER RAZIK

Event: Men’s singles
Hometown: Toronto, ON
Age: 32

Razik is the veteran member of Canada’s squash team. He will be competing in his third Commonwealth Games, and has also been to three Pan American Games. He won the gold medal at the 2003 Pan Am’s and has been the national champion four times, including the past two years. He is Canada’s top squash player, at 27th.

SWIMMING

SCOTT DICKENS

Event: 100m breaststroke, 50m breaststroke, 200m breaststroke
Hometown: Burlington
Age: 26

Dickens has international experience, representing Canada at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. He also participated in the 2010 Pan Pacific Trials,where he won the gold medal in the 200-metre breaststroke and earned a berth on the Canadian team for the Pan Pacific Games in Irvine, California. Once there, he won bronze in the 50-metre breaststroke, a good result prior to his participation in the Commonwealth Games.

ALEXA KOMARNYCKY

Event: 800m freestyle, 400m freestyle, 400m individual medley
Hometown: Etobicoke
Age: 20

A three-time national champion, Komarnycky won her first Canadian title when she was only 15-years-old. She was on the Canadian team at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Her personal best came in 2008 at the Olympic swimming trials when she stopped the clock at 4:42.80 in the 400-metre individual medley.

MARTHA McCABE

Event: 50m breaststroke, 200m breaststroke, 100m breaststroke
Hometown: Toronto
Age: 21

McCabe was named female swimmer of the meet at the Canada West Championships in Lethbridge, Alta., where she won five medals. She also represented Canada at the last Pan Pacific Games and finished sixth in the final round in the women’s 200-metre breaststroke.

TOBIAS ORIWOL

Event: 50m backstroke, 200m freestyle, 200m backstroke, 100m backstroke, 200m individual medley
Hometown: Pointe-Claire, Que. (trains in Toronto)
Age: 25

Oriwol is seven-time national champion who trains at the University of Toronto with John Rodgers. He placed sixth in the 400 metre and ninth in the 200 metre individual medley events at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro. He made the trip to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and after the Games retired from the sport to finish his degree in urban design. In January 2010 he announced his return to swimming.

ANNAMAY PIERSE

Event: 50m breaststroke, 200m breaststroke, 100m breaststroke
Hometown: Toronto
Age: 27

Toronto native and world record holder in the 200-metre breaststroke, Pierse will lead Canada’s aquatic team. Despite missing months of training with an injury, Pierse won bronze in the women’s 200-metre breaststroke competition at the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships. She also participated in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and finished sixth in that same event.

SINEAD RUSSELL

Event: 200m individual medley, 100m backstroke, 50m backstroke, 200m backstroke
Hometown: Burlington
Age: 17

Russell is the youngest swimmer in the Canadian team and hopes to build valuable experience at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. She included 19 hours in the pool every week and weight training in her preparation for the Games.

TABLE TENNIS

ANQI LUO

Event: Women’s singles, doubles, mixed doubles, team
Hometown: Mississauga
Age: 14

Luo’s appearance at the 2010 Commonwealth Games will mark her biggest tournament yet. However, she has already proven at a young age that she is talented table tennis player. At just 14, she is already Canada’s best junior player, and she just won a bronze medal at the Pan Am Cadet Championships in Ecuador.

WRESTLING

OHENEWA AKUFFO

Event: Freestyle 72 kg
Hometown: Brampton
Age: 31

Akuffo has several appearances in the women’s freestyle 72 kg events around the world. She won two silvers while competing in the Pan Am Games, one in Santo Domingo in 2003 and one in Rio de Janeiro in 2007. A year later, Akuffo won a bronze medal at the FILA Wrestling World Championships.

KHETAG PLIEV

Event: Freestyle 96 kg
Hometown: Toronto
Age: 26

Pliev is the only member of the Canadian senior national men’s team in the GTA area. He was the Canadian national champion in 2008 and 2009 and won the Canada Cup international tournament in 2007 and 2008.