Local athletes off to the Tokyo Olympic Games!

After they were postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Games are now set to begin later this summer in Tokyo. Kicking off Friday, July 23rd, with the opening ceremony at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium – the Summer Olympics will span a total of 17 days.

The best part? Well, what we think the best part is anyway – local athletes from Burlington, Oakville and Milton will be competing in the Games! Here’s who to look out for:

Oakville Paddler, Alanna Bray-Lougheed

Burloak Canoe Club alumnus Alanna Bray-Lougheed is heading to the Olympic Games as a sprint kayaker! Alanna began paddling at the age of 10 when her mother signed her up for lessons after she bought a canoe but Alanna didn’t know how to paddle. Eighteen years later, Alanna is a Burloak Canoe Club champion and the only  female from the club to qualify for the Olympics. Many of the country’s top paddlers have come out of the Burloak Canoe Club – and multiple Olympic medals have been won by their alumni.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics weren’t always the plan for Alanna, though. After failing to make the world cup team in 2019, Alanna was considering retiring from the sport. She then competed at the 2019 PanAm games and won gold in K2 and K4 500m races, reigniting her confidence and passion for the sport. Now, Alanna has qualified to race K4 500m with her teammates at the Olympic Games.

Burlington Sailor, Evan DePaul

Evan DePaul was 14 years old when he asked his parents to sign him up for sailing camp at the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club…then, he asked them if he could quit after just one week.  With encouragement from his father, Evan stuck it out at camp. And in a turn of events, he enjoyed camp so much that he went back the following summer, entering his first regatta in 2012.

Evan will represent Canada this year in the 49er class along with skipper, William Jones of Ancaster. The two first teamed up in the summer of 2015 to race in the 49er FX, before moving into the 49er in 2016. Just a year later, they won gold at the 2017 Junior World Championship held at their home training centre in Kingston, Ontario.

Jones and DePaul secured Canada’s Tokyo 2020 spot in the 49er by being the top Canadian boat at the 2020 World Championships for this class.

Oakville Kayaker, Simon McTavis

Oakville-raised kayaker, Simon McTavis, moved with his family to Sydney, Australia where he began paddling in 2011 at the age of 14. He represented Australia for 7 years from 2012 – 2018 on Olympic Hopes, Junior, U23, and Senior Teams.

In 2018 after completing his Bachelor of Project Management degree, the opportunity presented itself to return home to Canada and Simon jumped at it.

In May 2019, he secured a spot on the Canadian National Team by winning gold in the K1 x 1000 & K4 x 500 at National Team Trials 1 in Montreal. Simon is a proud member of the Mississauga Canoe Club and will be racing Men’s K4 500m at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Burlington Sailor, Sarah Douglas

Sarah started sailing at the age of seven and was drawn in by her family’s love for the ocean. Growing up in Barbados, Sarah had access to the water all year-round and took advantage of it. She was just 10 years old when she competed in her first world championship in the Optimist class. Sarah returned to Canada in 2008 to attend high school and quickly became one of the top youth sailors in the country.

Of Sarah’s many successes, the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru is certainly one to be highlighted. In 2019, she stood at the top of the podium despite a bacterial infection that kept her mostly in bed when she wasn’t racing. A month later she posted a seventh-place finish at the official Olympic test event for Tokyo 2020, proving to her what perseverance could do. Sarah’s success has come despite being diagnosed at age 14 with the genetic blood disorder alpha thalassemia, which reduces the amount of hemoglobin her body can produce. 

Milton Cycler, Michael Foley 

Believe it or not, Milton cycler Michael Foley only began cycling when the Milton velodrome opened in 2015. Before that, he had competed in sailing – but cycling suited his competitive personality more. It wasn’t long before he found success.

In December 2017, Michael stood on his first World Cup podium as the team pursuit won silver in Milton. From there, he won medals in 2018 and once again at the Pan Am Games in 2019. Now, Michael is off to Tokyo for the ultimate cycling competition. 

From all of us at Look Local Magazine, we wish all of our local (and Canadian) athletes the best of luck!  

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