An experience they wouldnt trade for the world

John Browne
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Breen, Howard, Lawrence will be part of Canadas entry in Bangkok

Laura Breens enthusiasm for the World University Games (Universiade) is quickly apparent.

This is huge. Ive never been a part of anything like this before. Its a very big deal. Im very excited, said the 21-year-old St. Johns soccer player.

The Memorial University student is one of three athletes from Newfoundland and Labrador on Canadas team for the Games which open Aug. 8 in Bangkok, Thailand.

The other Newfoundlanders competing at the Games are runner Julia Howard of St. Johns, who attends Simon Fraser University and lives in Burnaby, B.C., and Conception Bay South native Reg Lawrence, a Memorial student who will compete in tae kwon do at the Games, which conclude Aug. 18.

Last Saturday, Howard moved up from her specialty, the 800 metres, to record a personal best time in a 1,500-metre race (four minutes, 12.32 seconds) and finish in ninth place in the highly competitive KBC Night of Athletics meet in Heusden, Belgium. Howard competes in Amsterdam today after posting a time of in two minutes, 4.34 seconds in an 800-metre race in Liege, Belgium on Tuesday.

Lawrence, who received a bachelor of commerce degree in May, did some intense training in Montreal under the guidance of a two-time world champion in preparation for the University Games. He told The Telegram this spring that winning a medal at the Games would be massive, although he pointed out it will be difficult as Olympians often go to the University Games as part of their competitive schedule.

Breen left for Toronto Monday morning. The next leg was to take him to Vancouver before he headed to Beijing, China for a week of training.

A first-team Atlantic University Sport (AUS) and second-team Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) all-star last season with Memorial Sea-Hawks, Breen was selected to Canadas Universiade squad following a tryout camp in Montreal in April. Aside from Breen, there is only one other player from the Atlantic provinces on the womens soccer side.

The training session in China will be important because it will be the first time the full team has been together.

But Breen said bonding shouldnt be a big problem.

We were all picked for a reason. We all know what we are doing. It will take a little while to get used to one another, but hopefully we can have some good chemistry in the first week or so. Its going to be intense. That first week could be harder than the Games, Breen said with a laugh.

Breen admits shes a little concerned about a groin injury thats kept her out of the last two weeks of Jubilee Trophy play with her Investors Group/Billy Boot team

Its definitely on my mind, she said about the injury. Im a bit nervous about it right now, but I know that once its time to play the adrenalin will get going and Ill forget all about it. Ill just have to suck it up.

Canada, which finished fifth in the Games two years ago, will play in a division with Great Britain, South Africa and China. The soccer competition opens next week.

Breen has thoughts of playing for Canadas national team one day.

Id love to play for the national team, but Im not thinking that far ahead yet.

Been has had enough on her plate this summer and fall to keep her occupied.

Its been insane. Its been madness, she says her competitive and training schedule so far this summer. And there is a lot more to come.

After the Games, she heads home just in time for the Jubilee Trophy playoffs and then its back to MUN for her fourth season with the Sea-Hawks.

Organizations: World University Games, Simon Fraser University, Atlantic University Sport The Telegram Investors Group Sea-Hawks

Geographic location: Canada, Bangkok, China Belgium Montreal Newfoundland and Labrador Thailand Burnaby Conception Bay Heusden Amsterdam Liege Toronto Vancouver Beijing Great Britain South Africa MUN

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