OLYMPICS: McGill grads bow out of medal hunt in rowing and beach volleyball
ETON-DORNEY, ENGLAND - Two McGill University grads -- rower Derek O'Farrell of Montreal and beach volleyballer Marie-Andrée Lessard of LaSalle, Que., -- were knocked out of medal contention on Day 6 at the Olympics, Thursday.
O'Farrell and his crew was projected as a legitimate medal contender but finished fifth in a men's four semifinal heat at Lake Dorney and the Canadian boat has been relegated to a consolation round.
The United States won the heat in six minutes, 1.72 seconds, followed by Greece (6:02.61), Germany (6:04.61), New Zealand (6:06.36) and Canada (6:08.90). The top three move on to the A final. Great Britain won the other semifinal heat, followed by Australia, the Netherlands, Italy, Belarus and Serbia.
"It's the worst feeling in the entire world," said O'Farrell, 29, the leader of the men's four, his voice breaking. "I imagine it's the same feeling as finding out a family member has been shot. We just trained so long and so hard for this."
Joining O'Farrell in the Canadian boat was Michael Wilkinson of North Vancouver, Anthony Jacob of Vancouver and Will Dean of Kelowna, B.C. The boat will race in Saturday's B final (5:30 a.m. Eastern) and can finish no higher than seventh place.
Lessard and teammate Annie Martin of Lachine, Que., fell 21-12, 23-25, 15-10 to Italy's Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti to finish winless in their three round-robin matches. Earlier in the week, they suffered three-set losses to the British and Russian teams. The Italians, ranked No.6 in the world, finished atop Pool F with three wins to move onto the next round.
“It was not easy for sure, there were a lot of tough life lessons through it all,” said 34-year-old Lessard, a product of the McGill Martlets who earned a commerce degree in 2001. “It’s a journey that’s been filled with lots of obstacles. Just the fact that we made it here was everything coming together at the right time.
“Making the choices and the values and the way we’ve decided to compete and the way we’ve decided to approach the sport, it was a valid choice to stick to it, even when everyone was not agreeing necessarily with it.”
Lessard, a three-time Canadian beach champion, has been on the FIVB pro circuit since graduating and has accumulated over $150,000 in tour winnings. She had funded most of this season with prize money she won on a sports-related television reality show in Quebec. Lessard has fared will on the international scene, being ranked No. 1 on the tour and finishing fourth at the Commonwealth Games but this was her first appearance at the Olympics.
“We’ll cherish every moment of this Olympic experience until the end, take a break and then we’ll see what comes up, what’s the next inspiration, how can we serve this place and make this place a better world,” said Lessard.
Next on the agenda for the other McGillians is former Martlet swimmer Victoria Poon of LaSalle, who is scheduled for the women's the 50m freestyle on Aug. 3 at 5 a.m. Eastern.
Rowing grad Doug Vandor will compete Saturday (4:40 a.m.) in the C final of the men's lightweight double sculls, in a race for 13th place overall.
Wrestler Martine Dugrenier, a McGill grad and native of Laval, Que., is scheduled for her inaugural bout in the women's 63 kg weight class on Aug. 8 at 1 p.m. Synchronized swimmer Jo-Annie Fortin, a Montreal native who will enter McGill as a psychology freshman in September, begins her competition on Aug. 9 (10 a.m.).
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