Island cyclist Erin Attwell tracks down Pan Am silver

Erin Attwell of Victoria and Maggie Coles-Lyster of Maple Ridge have grown up riding together on roads and tracks across the province and country as B.C.’s two brightest young emerging female cyclists.

They took their act international Friday to win the silver medal with the Canadian team pursuit squad in the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. The U.S. took gold in 4:24.099 with Canada second in 4:27.799. The Americans’ average speed around the 4,000-metre velodrome oval was 54.52 km/h and the Canadians’ was 53.77 km/h. The Canadian team, which included Miriam Brouwer of Burlington, Ont., and Laurie Jussaume of Contrecoeur, Que., defeated Mexico in the semifinals.

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“Being a development team athlete, it’s pretty incredible,” said Attwell.

“Especially coming to my first Pan Am Games and coming away with a medal is something I would not have been able to say that we are going to do beforehand. It just shows the amount of work that we put in is really paying off and the puzzle pieces are slowly coming together. I feel this group has a whole lot more to offer, but it’s a good starting point. It’s just an amazing learning experience and I’m looking forward to more opportunities like this.”

The 20-year-old Attwell is the latest international track cyclist to come out of what is now known as the Westshore Velodrome, located behind The Q Centre, and which was imperilled and saved only after the Island cycling community rallied to assure its continued existence. Other Island cyclists who got their start on the Colwood facility include 2012 London Olympic bronze-medallist Gillian Carleton, 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games gold-medallist Evan Carey and 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Jay Lamoureux.

Attwell graduated from the Canadian Sports School-Victoria, which is operated by Canadian Sports Institute-Pacific at its PISE campus on Interurban Road. It is where top student athletes spend their afternoons in both academics and athletic training, after attending their regular high schools in the morning. It is operated by School District 62.

“My goal is the Olympics in track cycling,” said Attwell, upon graduating from Canadian Sports School-Victoria in 2017.

Attwell provided the fourth event in which Island athletes have medalled in the first week of the Pan Am Games, joining silver-medallist triathletes Desirae Ridenour of Cowichan Bay and Hannah Henry of Victoria, Caroline Crossley and the Langford-based gold-medallist Canadian women’s rugby sevens team, and the silver-medallist men’s sevens squad which included Luke McCloskey and Brennig Prevost of Victoria, Patrick Kay of Duncan and former University of Victoria Vikes stars Nathan Hirayama and Sean Duke.

Meanwhile, teen prodigy Mathea Olin of Tofino advanced to the fourth round of the Pan Am Games surfing competition and is one win away from making the women’s gold-medal final.

The luck of the draw, however, wasn’t kind to Bryan Colwell of Victoria in the heavyweight boxing division of the Pan Am Games in Lima. The Canadian champion was beaten in his first fight by 2016 Rio Olympics bronze-medallist and 2017 world amateur champion Erislandy Savon of Cuba, nephew of the great Felix Savon.

There are more than 50 Island or Island-based athletes on the Canadian team at the Pan Am Games, which began last Friday in the Peruvian capital and run through Aug. 11.

Being chased are the 20 medals, including 13 golds, won by Island athletes at the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games and 21 medals, including three golds, won by Islanders at the 2011 Guadalajara Pan Am Games.

• FIELD HOCKEY

The Canadian women’s team improved to 2-1 with a 5-0 win over Uruguay. Sara McManus of Tsawwassen had two goals to lead Canada. Rachel Donohoe, Stephanie Norlander and Holly Stewart also scored, while goalie Kaitlyn Williams registered the shutout.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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