Gold, silver, bronze medals for Canada
August 16, 2008
BEIJING–After a week-long drought, Canada won three Olympic medals within an hour, picking up a gold, silver and bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Tonya Verbeek of Grimsby, Ont., is the latest in a string of Canadians to win a medal, grabbing a bronze in the 55 kg women’s wrestling event shortly before 5:30 a.m. local time.
Verbeek, who won a silver medal in wrestling in Athens, defeated Sweden’s Ida-Theres Nerell 1-0, 1-0 for the medal.
A few minutes before 5 p.m. local time, 27-year-old wrestler Carol Huynh won Canada’s first gold medal with a crushing win in the 48 kg category.
About 20 minutes before that, the men’s rowing pair of Dave Calder and Scott Frandsen grabbed a silver medal at the Olympic rowing course.
Huynh, the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, came out strong against her Japanese opponent and started scoring right away. When it was over, she bent over in tears of disbelief.
In the stands, Canadian fans who were no doubt relieved waved Canada’s flag back and forth and shouted in support.
Huynh, who trains in Calgary, earned a spot in the women’s 48 kg wrestling final with a couple wins Saturday morning. She came out strong against Japan’s Chiharu Icho and the match was almost never in doubt as she posted a 4-0, 2-0 win.
Huynh won a gold medal at the Pan American Games last year and a bronze at the world championships in 2005.
After winning her first career Olympic medal, Hunyh ran over to hug coach Leigh Vierling. He put the 27-year-old on his shoulders to carry her around the China Agricultural University Gymnasium as Huynh proudly held up a Canadian flag.
She wiped away tears as O Canada was played after the medal presentation.
“I was just thinking how proud I am to be Canadian,” Huynh said. “And I was just thinking about the road to how I got here. It’s been a long one but a good one.”
Calder and Frandsen were ahead at the halfway point of the men’s pairs event but the renowed Australian team of Drew Ginn and Duncan Free pulled ahead and took the gold.
The bronze went to New Zealand’s team of Nathan Twaddle and George Bridgewater.
Calder, who’s from Victoria, and Frandsen, who hails from Kelowna, were considered medal possibilities but not huge favourites.
It wasn’t really part of our thought process going in because that’s just unneeded pressure,” Frandsen said of breaking the country’s losing streak. “It’s great to get Canada on the board.”
"I’m really proud of it and Scott is really proud of it,” said Calder. “The Australians had a great push through the middle. We pushed back a little bit but congratulations to them."
Calder was more than happy with his silver medal.
"I have been at this game since I was 12, and now the long, hard training in the winter has paid off."
They gave the Australians a run for their money and finished with a time of 6:39.55. The Aussies were just a bit ahead at 6:37.44.
The New Zealand squad came in at 6:44.19 for third place.
Calder rowed in the men’s pair four years ago in Athens when the crew was disqualified for leaving their lane in the semifinal. Frandsen was a member of the men’s eight squad that finished a disappointing fifth at the Athens Games.