Courtney Hufsmith won Canada’s sixth and final medal at the 2019 FISU Summer Universiade Saturday night, capturing bronze in the women’s 1,500 metres.
On the final day of competition for Canadian athletes in southern Italy, the Canadians saw one fourth and two fifth-place finishes at San Paolo Stadium while the women’s water polo team fell to Russia in the bronze medal game and men’s volleyball picked up a big win over Brazil to close out the Universiade.
Sunday is Day 11, and the only item remaining on the Canadian calendar is the Closing Ceremony set for 3 p.m. EDT / 12 p.m. PDT (9 p.m. local) at San Paolo Stadium, live on FISU.tv.
Canada finishes with six medals: one gold, one silver, and four bronze.
Hufsmith, a University of Saskatchewan student, won Canada’s third medal in track and field Saturday, posting a time of 4:11.81 in the 1,500m to win bronze. It was her second personal-best performance in as many races, posting her previous PB of 4:11.83 in the preliminary round on Thursday.
“I was getting a bit worried because I was stuck in the back and there wasn’t really any spots opening up. But I just had to stay patient and eventually I had a gap and just took advantage of it.
This was my goal this season, getting on that podium. I felt really proud of myself actually getting there.”
Lucia Stafford was also in the 1,500 for Canada, finishing fifth in a time of 4:12.70.
“It was an interesting race for sure,” said Canadian head coach Bob Westman. “It was tactical at the beginning and then ended up fast. It just speaks volumes to how strong both those girls are. Courtney was so strong on the day to run a PB in that kind of race. It was a great experience for both of them and a great finish.”
The Canadian team also had medal hopes in the women’s 4 x 400-metre relay Saturday night, coming in as the top-seeded team. The squad of Zoe Sherar, Jenna Westaway, Stafford, and Maïté Bouchard had the lead early but were unable to keep pace with Ukraine, which ran away with the gold medal. Canada finished fifth in a time of 3:34.62.
Stafford was a late replacement in the event for Maddy Price, the 400-metre specialist who ran the anchor leg in the preliminaries. Price was pulled after a flare-up of a foot injury, and the new team performed extremely well given the circumstances.
“It was a tough decision to make because obviously (Price) feels she wants to be there for the team but we have to look out for her best interest going forward and the team was so good about it,” said Westman. “Everyone fully understood and embraced this new role that we all have to rise up and they did exactly that.
“We got absolutely everything we could out of Jenna, everything you could out of Maïté. Zoe ran a second faster out of blocks and then Lucia comes back after running a 1500 metres 20 minutes earlier and runs her fastest split of the year in a 4 x 400. It was utterly amazing.”
The final event of the Universiade for Canada was the men’s 5,000 metres, again featuring two athletes. Mike Tate set the pace from the front for most of the race’s first half, while Kieran Lumb worked his way from the back of the pack and gained significant ground over the final 400 metres. Lumb finished fourth in a time of 14:06.08, while Tate crossed the line sixth in 14:19.65.
Anne-Marie Comeau kicked off the final day of competition with a ninth-place finish in the half-marathon in a time of 1:16.18.
“We have a great bunch of fighters in this group,” said Westman. “Their performances were awesome. We came in hoping to get three medals – we came away with three medals and everyone is a stronger, better, smarter athlete at the end of this. I think we had a great group of people here, not just athletes.”
Water Polo (W)
At Naples, for the second-straight night Canada fell by a large score margin, this time 22-7 to the Russian Federation in the bronze medal game at Piscina Scandone in Naples.
The fourth-placed Canadians held their heads high and will leave Italy with a 4-3 record through the 11-day tournament.
“We are very disappointed because this was a medal game so we came in thinking and hoping for the best which was the plan but we didn’t show up today,” said Canadian head coach Cyril Dorgigné. “It was a great experience overall for both the staff and the players. We had a pretty good round-robin...and a tough quarter-final against the USA and it doesn’t happen very often that we beat them. The girls showed up and it was a fantastic win but now when we have that win you want more.”
Russia’s Polina Kempf was lethal in the pool scoring eight goals in the win, while Valeria Rojas scored a hat-trick for Canada. Canada was just 7-for-23 in their scoring attempts, while Russia shot 55 per cent and had 13 steals.
This is the third time Canada has finished fourth at the Summer Universiade. Canada’s best finish at these games was a silver medal in 2015, while they finished fourth in 2013 and 2009, fifth in 2017 and sixth in 2011.
At Benevento, the men's volleyball squad ended its tournament on a positive note with a win over Brazil in five sets of 25-16, 23-25, 25-21, 19-25 and 15-9 at Palatedeschi.
Canada finishes the competition in 11th place out of 20 teams, the same result that they had at the 2017 Summer Universiade in Taipei. The Canadians also avenged a 3-1 loss suffered in their tournament-opener against these Brazilians.
“It was just us being more comfortable with ourselves, just a little bit more prepared for the moment,” said Team Canada’s head coach Dave Preston. “That Brazil name still carries a lot of weight in international volleyball, they are a world-class opponent. It’s not what we did, but it was about how we did it.”
It was Canada’s seventh game in eight days, often played in difficult conditions.
“Thankfully today it was a full team effort. Every single player contributed one way or another. It’s been a grind for our guys. It was extremely difficult, especially considering the caliber of our pool.
“As this tournament went on and we saw the caliber of the teams that were here, we are very happy with where we finished. Our guys have a better understanding now of what it means to wear the maple leaf. They played with pride, they player with character, and they played relentlessly no matter what the match was for. We were very, very proud of their effort.”
Dylan Mortensen had another good overall game with 18 kills and five blocks. Craig Ireland also reached double digits in attacks with 10 kills.
Team Canada Medal Summary
Sarah Mitton, Athletics, women’s shot put
Nicole Hutchinson, Athletics, women’s 5,000 m
Courtney Hufsmith, Athletics, women’s 1,500m
Ingrid Wilm, Nina Kucheran, Hannah Genich & Ainsley McMurray, Swimming, women’s 4x100m medley relay
Laurent Gosselin-Paradis, Diving, men’s platform
Laurent Gosselin-Paradis & Ethan Pitman, Diving, men’s synchronized platform