Canadians athletes were on top of the sports world over the July 23-24 weekend.
First, in a race usually dominated by Jamaica, the United States or Great Britain, the Canadian 4 x 100 relay team captured a gold medal in the World Athletic Championships in Eugene, Ore.
The next day, on a golf course at Evian-les-bains, France, 400 kilometres from Paris, Canada’s golfing sweetheart, Brooke Henderson, survived a rather sloppy final round by rolling in an eight-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win the Evian Championship.
The tournament is one of five majors on the Ladies Professional Golfers’ Association (LPGA) calendar.
The relay team, consisting of Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney and anchor man Andre De Grasse, posted a time of 37.48 seconds to nip the favoured U.S by seven one-hundredths of a second.
“It means everything,” De Grasse told the CBC’s Devin Heroux. “We’ve been talking about this for a few years now … It feels good to get it here . . . a lot of Canadian fans here so it almost feels like home soil.”
The quartet’s time was a Canadian record, with De Grasse’s leg timed at a jet-like 8.79 seconds.
Meanwhile, the 24-year-old Henderson kept Canadian athletes in the world sports headlines the next day by winning her second major title.
She started the day with a two-stroke lead, lost it on the front nine (thanks in part to a four-putt), got back into a tie with a pair of birdies on the back nine and then rolled in the crucial winning putt on 18.
She now has 12 LPGA titles to her credit and vaulted to No. 6 on the world-ranking list. Oh, she also won a cool $1 million for her victory.
Henderson, of Smiths Falls, Ont., had been tied with Sandra Post and Mike Weir for most major golf titles won by Canadians (one) and now sits atop that list, with more almost certainly to come.
“I stayed pretty patient, as patient as I could under the circumstances,” Henderson said in a post-round interview, and reported by CBC.
”Going into the back nine, the saying is that majors are won on the back nine on Sunday so I just tried to keep that frame of mind and knew I was still in it if I had a solid back [nine].”
The relay team needed not quite 40 seconds to accomplish its feat, while Henderson needed four days and 72 holes to reach her pinnacle. But the headlines — big and bold — were the same size.
• RJ Currie of sportsdeke.com: “Golden Knights star Jack Eichel once said the NHL should ditch offsides — just sit at the other end ‘and wait for the puck.’ In related news, Pavel Bure is considering coming out of retirement.”
• Former Mets and Phillies pitcher Tug McGraw, on whether he preferred grass or AstroTurf: “ I don’t know. I never smoked AstroTurf.”
• Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr., via Twitter, when asked if he is the most famous person from Richfield, Ohio’s Revere High School: “You would think so … but, I’m not sure what I’d have to do to pass Jeffery Dahmer.”
• Jerry Tarde of Golf Digest, in a fictitious interview with the late Dan Jenkins, on the LIV golf tour: “I hear Patrick Reed got $80 million to defect. The Saudis paid him $20 million, and the PGA Tour put up the other 60.”
• Janice Hough of leftcoastsportsbabe.com, after Golden State Warriors’ Andrew Wiggins said he still wishes he didn’t get vaccinated against Covid-19: “About a million Americans would offer a rebuttal if they weren’t like, you know, dead.”
• Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg: “At the World Athletic Championships in Eugene, Ore., Mondo Duplantis set a world record in the pole vault of 20 feet, four inches. That is higher than Snoop Dog at one of his album release parties.”
• Headline at theonion.com: “Trump Hosts Saudi-Backed ‘Jamal Khashoggi Was No Saint’ Golf Tournament”
• Headline at fark.com: “Mike Trout diagnosed with rare spinal condition that’s been aggravated by carrying the Angels for the last 10 years or so.”
• Vancouver comedy writer Torben Rolfsen, on Twitter, on the Blue Jays’ 28-5 romp at Fenway: “Boston T-ball Party.”
• Headline at TheBeaverton.com: “Pope Francis closes Commonwealth Stadium mass with 52-yard Hail Mary.”
• Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “The Arizona Cardinals have removed the controversial ‘independent study’ clause from QB Kyler Murray’s $230.5M contract. But added one for cleaning up his room and being in bed by 10.”
• Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, on unvaccinated players: “As they say in baseball, we’ll shoot any random stuff into our bodies, as long as it’s not something that will help stop a worldwide killer pandemic.”
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by Bruce Penton