Airdrie rower brings home bronze medal from Summer Games
By: Lucas Punkari
| Posted: Thursday, Aug 22, 2013 10:08 am
Although she had competed at the Western Canada Summer Games in 2011, Airdrie rower Olivia McMurray was in for a new experience last week when she competed at the Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Quebec.
“It was such a different atmosphere there, and it was really nice to meet people from so many different provinces, which made things a lot of fun,” McMurray said. “There was also a really high level of competition there, which was really nice to see.”
McMurray’s experience was made even better on Aug. 17, as she and her teammates Morgan Crilly (Calgary), Olivia Fischer (Calgary), and Mallory Turner (Edmonton) nabbed the bronze medal in the women’s four event.
“We were sitting in second place all the way through that race, but only by less than a second over Saskatchewan,” McMurray recalled. “We really sprinted at the end to beat Ontario for fourth place, and our entire crew were so happy to get the bronze medal.”
“I thought that was one of our best races as a team, as we executed everything in our game plan and it all just came together for us,” she added.
That bronze medal showing was the icing on the cake for the 20-year-old McMurray after she made two other finals on Aug. 16.
In the female pair finals, McMurray teamed up with Crilly to come away with a fourth-place result, which she was proud of considering the short amount of practice time she had with her partner.
“We found out that we were going to be paired together about a week before the games, so we didn’t really have a lot of time to work with each other before hand,” McMurray said. “We were able to win our heat race, which we were not expecting at all, and then we ran a very good race in some of the worst water conditions that we saw all week.”
The George McDougall graduate then picked up a fifth-place showing in the female eight with coxswain event, where she teamed up with Crilly, Fisher, Turner, Isabelle Belzil (Edmonton), Renee Kokts-Porietis, Karen Lefsrud (Calgary), Marisa Maiorana and Alexandra Martin (Edmonton).
“I thought we all had a really good race in that final,” McMurray said. “We were hoping to get a bronze medal there, but we really happy with how we finished up in that race.”
McMurray’s showings in those races allowed Team Alberta to improve on its performance in the 2009 Canada Summer Games, as it finished in third overall in the final rowing standings after finishing in sixth place four years ago.
“That was a really big confidence booster for the entire program, as it shows how much everyone has improved in the last four years,” McMurray said. “Even though we didn’t get the results that we wanted to in the pair and eight races, we were very proud to help contribute to the final ranking for Team Alberta.”
In addition to returning from Sherbrooke with a medal around her neck, McMurray felt she was able to learn a few valuable lessons at the Canada Summer Games that she hopes to build on as she goes forward in her rowing career.
“We all dealt with some challenges with some of the conditions, and I learnt a lot about working through that without getting frustrated,” she said. “We knew that the last half of the race course had some choppier water, and it was good to push through those challenges as that made us all stronger competitors.”
“I also liked how we all came together as a team, as we were all from different areas of the province and we never really had trained a lot together before hand,” McMurray added.
The next major event for McMurray will be the Rowing Canada Aviron (RCA) National Rowing Championship, which will take place in Welland, Ontario on Nov. 8 to 10.
“I’ll be competing in the U23 pair category, where I won the bronze medal a year ago,” McMurray said. “I’m looking forward to competing in that event again, and I’m hoping to improve on my showing from last year.”