Silver & bronze

Christie shines as Gaels earn two podium finishes at OUAs

Matt Christie was named OUA Male Rower of the Year.
Matt Christie was named OUA Male Rower of the Year.
Supplied by Robyn Finley
The Gaels' women's heavyweight eight captured the gold medal at the OUA championships on Sunday.
The Gaels' women's heavyweight eight captured the gold medal at the OUA championships on Sunday.
Supplied by Robyn Finley

Matt Christie reigned over Ontario on Sunday.

The third-year Gaels rower won gold in the lightweight men’s single at the OUA championships in St. Catharines, posting Queen’s best individual result and locking down a major piece of hardware.

Months after competing for Canada at the Under-23 World Championships, Christie was named 2013 OUA Oarsman of the Year – rowing’s equivalent of a Most Outstanding Player award.

While Christie and the women’s heavyweight eight claimed first-place medals, Queen’s also secured a pair of overall podium finishes, with the women’s side taking silver and the men bronze.

Queen’s women, the defending OUA champions, were topped by the Western Mustangs on Sunday, last year’s runners-up. The Mustangs’ women won gold medals in five races to amass 114 overall points, ahead of the Gaels’ 88.

Either the Gaels or Mustangs have won the women’s provincial title each year since 2001. There hasn’t been a repeat women’s champ since Queen’s clinched the crown in 2007 and 2008.

Head coach John Armitage said the women had hoped to retain the team title from last season.

“We’re disappointed that we didn’t achieve our highest expectations,” he said. “I would have given the women an A-plus had we won, but the fact that we fell short is still a very good finish.”

The heavyweight eight race marked the Gaels’ lone victory on the women’s side. By finishing a second faster than Western, the eight won their second straight individual gold, after over a decade-long drought heading into last year.

“The men’s and women’s heavyweight eight are the penultimate events in our sport,” Armitage said. “Winning that event two years in a row is a great feat.”

It's all about the 8+! @GaelsRowing unofficial 1st.

— Zola Mehlomakulu (@ZolaMehlo) October 27, 2013

The Gaels men snagged overall bronze for the third straight season, while Western outlasted the defending champion Brock Badgers to reclaim gold.

Silver-medal placements in the lightweight four and the heavyweight eight contributed to the Gaels’ 71 total points, while Western tabulated 129 and Brock 90.

Armitage said this year’s bronze was an upgrade over last season, but the relative struggles of the lightweight men hindered Queen’s overall chances.

“[The men] were a close third place, whereas last year, we were a poor third place,” he said. “Had the lightweight men held their own from last year, we would have moved up to second place.

“That’s where the mixed feelings come in,” he added. “It’s a good performance, but not a great performance.”

In addition to Christie’s individual honour, assistant coaches Alex Condello and Zola Mehlomakulu were finalists for OUA Coach of the Year honours.

While Armitage oversees the entire Gaels program, Condello and Mehlomakulu are the lead men’s and women’s coaches, respectively.

Both the men’s and women’s sides will compete in Montreal next weekend at the Canadian University Championships. Armitage said both his crews should contend for national gold.

To do so, he plans to emulate the focus of Queen’s most renowned varsity team.

“Everybody faces their own hurdles at a major event,” Armitage said. “Look at our football team – they have injuries. You never hear Pat Sheahan complain about injuries.

“We’re going to take a page out of the football team and not complain about anything – just do the best with what we’ve got.”

Thanks @badgersrowing for putting on a great regatta! @queensgaels results and OUA standings

— Queens Rowing (@GaelsRowing) October 27, 2013

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