Flagbearer, standard breaker

Kenn Oliver
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Record-setting swimmer to carry province’s colours in Canada Games opening ceremonies

Swimmer Owen Daly was introduced as this’ provinces flagbearer for the opening ceremonies of the upcoming 2013 Canada Summer Games during an athletes rally Monday night at the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Centre  in St. John’s. The Canada Games will be held in Sherbrooke, Que., from Aug. 2-17. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Owen Daly has spent the last four years breaking provincial swimming records set by his father, Chris Daly, in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

For example, at the East Coast long course championships held at the St. John’s Aquarena over the weekend, Daly set a record in the 200-metre individual medley time, a standard once held by his father. And he came within a fifth of a second of breaking Chris Daly’s 200m freestyle mark.sides

“I know I can do it. It’s just a matter of having better competition and better atmosphere,” says Daly, who was revealed as the province’s flagbearer for the upcoming Canada Summer Games at an athlete rally at the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Centre Monday evening.

Besides waving the flag at the opening ceremonies, Daly will also be carrying a legacy into the Games in Sherbrooke, Quebec (Aug. 2-17). More than three decades ago, at the 1981 Games in Thunder Bay, Ont., Chris Daly swam to a bronze, one of six medals won by the Newfoundland and Labrador contingent.

“I think I can medal at this Games,” insists Daly, who set five provincial records, but finished off the podium as a 14-year-old at the 2009 Games in Prince Edward Island.

“I had seen a bunch of the big guys, the big 18-year-olds, and it really put a fire in my belly to come back four years later and win a few medals for Newfoundland.”

Before the Games, Daly will be spending quite a bit of time in metro Montreal. First up  will be the senior summer national championships at the Pointe Claire Aquatic Centre, July 17-20. A berth in a final there will give Daly a good chance at making the national team travelling to the junior world championships in Dubai  this August.

“There won’t be any 19-year-olds or university guys going to this thing, so I think it’s a really good opportunity for me to ... hopefully make the team,” Daly suggests.

After the senior nationals, Daly will remain in Montreal for a training camp, followed by the age group nationals, July 24-28.

“That’s nothing but beneficial,” he says of a busy July in the pool. “The more meets, the more training and experience you can get in before the Games, the better.”

When it came to choosing this Games’ flag bearer, Newfoundland and Labrador chef de mission Michelle Healey says there were many athletes to choose from.

“You’re putting somebody on a stage before they even go and perform. We don’t want to mentally distract somebody from performing,” she said.

“Owen’s had a lot of success all through his age-group swimming career and when we looked at the balance of athletes, Owen’s done so well at a young age and he has the potential to do something special.”

Outside of Daly, Healey says the girls’ soccer side — a group that has trained together intensively for the past three years under coach Jake Stanford — has shown an ability to compete on both the Atlantic and national stage, while rowers, track and field athletes and wrestlers from this province also stand a chance at bringing home some hardware.

“But, sport is sport. Can I tell you who is going to win medals today? Probably not,” cautions Healey, a Games athlete as a basketballer in 1989 and part of the province’s mission staff since 1999.

“But I do think Newfoundland and Labrador will have some great performances that we’ll all be proud of.”

Healey is particularly proud of the provincial government’s commitment to help train elite level athletes through the construction of the Sports Centre, hiring Jerome Brennan as the head strength and conditioning specialist, and budgetting for other high-performance training programs.

 

‘Best prepared athletes’

“What I’m most proud of is that we’re now into a Games cycle where all the sports are buying into that and they’re committed to doing it and we’re now at a point where we’re sending our best prepared athletes that we’ve ever sent to the Games.

“Whether or not that translates to results, I’m not sure, but we feel really food about the group we’re heading off the island with.”

The province’s team consists of some 370 athletes, coaches and volunteers competing in all the Games events except fencing and canoe/kayak, a sport Healey would someday like to see established in this province.

“Canoe/kayak is a sport where Nova Scotia has excelled tremendously on the national stage, and I think the environment is here in Newfoundland and Labrador that sport,” she says. “But there’s nobody working on the development side. We need some kind of expert to come in and help the teaching.”

 

koliver@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Sports Centre, Pointe Claire Aquatic Centre

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, East Coast, Montreal Canada Sherbrooke Quebec Thunder Bay Prince Edward Island Dubai Nova Scotia

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  • travor brown
    July 09, 2013 - 08:54

    On behalf of Swimming Newfoundland and Labrador, a huge congratulations to Owen. What an honour for him and our sport. Travor Brown (President, SNL)