Malarie Jones and Matt Martel with their Summer Games medals. DON RICKERS

Canada’s largest cultural and multi-sport event, the Canada Summer Games, concluded last weekend, ending two weeks of competition and camaraderie at 19 Niagara venues featuring 5,000 athletes, coaches, and volunteers.

Local athletes were well represented on the Ontario team, and brought home their share of medals.

Rower Malarie Jones, of Wainfleet, took home both a gold in the Women’s Eight and a silver in the Women’s Four at the Games.

“I’ve been rowing since the summer before my Grade 9 year at school, and have really enjoyed the training and competition,” said Jones, who attends E.L. Crossley and competed internationally for Canada at a regatta in Italy this summer in the Junior Women’s Four. She hopes to attend university in 2024 in the U.S. on a rowing scholarship.

Standing six feet tall, rowing both port and starboard, recognized as a top athlete at E.L. Crossley, and with a 7:15 2K time, placing her first in her division at the 2022 Ontario Ergometer Championships, Malarie is expected to have a broad selection of NCAA Division I opportunities.

Matthew Martel, of Fonthill, earned a bronze medal in golf during the Games. The Lookout Point Golf Club member placed seventh at Ontario junior boys championships earlier in the summer. A graduate of Notre Dame in Welland, he is headed to McMaster University to study integrated biomedical engineering and health science, and will have his clubs in tow.

Malarie and Matt told the Voice that they will long cherish the Games experience, especially the Opening Ceremony at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines (participating in the Parade of Teams) as well as the Closing Ceremony at Victoria Park in Niagara Falls.

“Both were terrific events, and we enjoyed a great team dynamic during the competition,” said Matt.

Staying in the Athletes’ Village on the Brock University campus was another highlight, though Matt conceded, “It was a long walk to get food. But the food was good.”

While Malarie had an air-conditioned room at the Village, it was a luxury Matt did not enjoy, staying in one of the older Brock residences.

“My living space was nice, but about 95 degrees at times,” he said with a laugh.

Grace Tennant, of Caistor Centre, who went to South Lincoln High School prior to attending Kent State on an NCAA Division I scholarship and representing the university at the 2021 Indoor Nationals, was the gold medalist in shot put and silver in discus at the 2022 Summer Games. Tennant previously competed in both the PanAm Junior Games and Canada Summer Games in 2017, as well as the World juniors in 2018.

My living space was nice, but about 95 degrees at times

Shane Keagan, of Fonthill, won gold in rowing as part of the Men’s Eight.

“It was a tight race for the entire 2000 metres, put we pulled ahead of British Columbia in the final four strokes to secure the win,” Keagan told the Voice.

The Ridley College graduate, who set a 2K erg record at the Canadian Indoor Rowing Championships, also won gold at the CSSRA Championships in June. Keagan rowed internationally for Canada’s junior national team the past two summers, and is off to Yale University.

Other Pelham rowers competing in the Games were Preston Darling, who won gold in the Men’s Eight, and Alessio Perco, who won gold in the Men’s Lightweight Double and Men’s Quad. Corrynn Parker, of Fenwick, and Sarah Hurley, of Fonthill, both earned bronze medals in women’s basketball at the Games, and were featured in a Voice article last week.

Pelham-based coaches who participated in the Games included David Jack, a high-performance cycling coach whose athletes won two gold medals at the Games, and Dr. Patrick Reid, an instructor in sport management at Brock with international experience, whose field athletes in long and triple jump, plus high jump and pole vault, won six gold and two silver.

As to the legacy of the Niagara Summer Games, in addition to the positive experiences of athletes and spectators, $113 million in new facilities were constructed, including the $105 million Canada Games Park, on Merrittville Highway adjacent to Brock. The park includes two arenas for sports such as lacrosse and ice hockey, a sport performance centre, track and field facility, a 200-metre indoor track, an outdoor track and field facility, a mammoth gymnasium with four full-sized courts, beach volleyball courts, a cycling centre, and sports performance lab.

Other new assets include the $8 million Neil Campbell Rowing Centre on Henley Island in St. Catharines, a mountain bike trail in St. Catharines, and a concert bandshell in West Lincoln. Upgrades were made to the tennis courts in Niagara-on-the-Lake at Memorial Park, Brock University’s aquatics centre, the baseball field at the Welland Sports Complex, and the softball facility at Southward Community Park in Grimsby.