High jumper Michael Mason leads Island medal haul at Pan Am Games

It was a day of silver linings for Island athletes as four of them placed second Friday at the 2019 Pan Am Games.

High-jumper Michael Mason of Nanoose Bay, Victoria field hockey players Maddie Secco and Anna Mollenhauer and Victoria swimmer Danielle Hanus, with two, captured silver medals in Lima, Peru.

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The graceful three-time Olympian Mason leaped 2.28 metres behind winner Luis Zayas Fernandez of Cuba (2.30). The graduate of Ballenas Secondary in Parksville, the 2004 world junior champion, added to his silver from the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games and bronze medal from the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

It was a dream deferred, not denied, for Secco, Mollenhauer and former University of Victoria Vikes stars Kaitlyn Williams and Danielle Hennig as the Victoria-based Canadian women’s field hockey team lost 5-1 to world No. 3 Argentina in the gold-medal final.

Hanging in the balance for the winning team was a direct berth into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which Argentina captured. Canada gets a final shot at Tokyo 2020 through a two-game, total goals series against a team to be decided in the final round of world qualifying.

“It’s pretty special to have a silver medal around our necks,” said Hennig, who won a national championship with UVic in 2008, during her four seasons with the Vikes to 2011.

“It’s been almost 30 years since a Canadian women’s team has been in the [Pan Am Games] final. At the last Pan Ams, we won the bronze for the first time in 16 years. You can see this team is building. Argentina is a top team in the world and that’s something we are striving to become.”

James Kirkpatrick of Victoria and his former UVic Vikes teammates Keegan Pereira and Brenden Bissett on the Canadian men’s field hockey squad play defending 2016 Rio Olympic champion Argentina today with an Olympic berth going to the winner.

Hanus of the High Performance Centre-Victoria and Island Swimming won her second and third silver medals of the Games by placing second in the women’s 100-metre backstroke in a personal best 1:00.34 and also with the Canadian 4x100 mixed medley relay.

“I can’t complain with a best time,” she said.

Hanus added to her silver medal won earlier in the Games in the 100-metre butterfly after placing a disappointing seventh in her first event, the 200 fly.

Hanus, in her third year swimming for UVic, was named Vikes female athlete of the year for 2018-19 for setting five school records. About her silver-medal Games hat trick, she said: “I was nervous on the first day but I straightened myself out and have been having fun.”

Elk Lake-based Rowing Canada, preparing for this month’s world championship which is also the Tokyo Olympic qualifier, sent a developmental team to Lima. But the love of the sport is just as strong at any level as Canadian strokers captured two Pan Am Games gold medals Friday.

“Open bodies of water are so beautiful and I feel connected to nature when I’m rowing,” said Jaclyn Stelmaszyk, Canadian gold medallist in the women’s lightweight double.

“I feel so very human when I’m competing, especially at such a high level, and I also feel so connected to the world.”

cdheensaw@timescolonsit.com

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