Seven athletes with connections to Brock will represent Canada in London at the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Current student Colin Russell, along with alumni Tonya Verbeek and Joel Dembe, will don the red and white in competition at the Games. Alumni Marty Calder, Terry Paul, Elisabeth Walker-Young and Jeff Dunbrack will be there to provide guidance to athletes as coaches and team leaders for the athletes.
Student Jessica Lewis will represent Bermuda in wheelchair track.
“The Olympic Games are the pinnacle event of amateur sports in the world,” said Robert Hilson, Brock’s Brock’s director of Athletics. “To have these student-athletes and alumni represent Canada speaks volumes about their dedication, commitment and pursuit of excellence in sport and their everyday lives. We wish them the best of luck as they look to capture gold in London.”
The Olympics happen July 27 to Aug. 12. The Paralympics run Aug. 29 to Sept. 9.
Colin Russell, Swimming
Colin Russell will take to the water in the 4×100-metre freestyle relay in his second Olympics.
The graduate student in Applied Health Sciences is also one half of the first sibling team to represent Canada in Olympic swimming in 36 years. Russell’s younger sister, Sinead, will be competing in 100- and 200-metre backstroke events.
Russell competed in Beijing in 2008 where he helped set Canadian records for the 4×200-metre and 4×100-metre freestyle relays. The teams placed fifth and sixth respectively. He also swam in the individual men’s 200-metre freestyle race, coming in 14th overall.
You can watch Russell swim for gold on Sunday, July 29.
Tonya Verbeek, Women’s Wrestling
Tonya Verbeek is pinning her hopes on her third appearance at the Olympic Games where she will compete in the 55-kilogram weight category in women’s wrestling.
The Brock alumna wrestled her way to a bronze medal in Beijing at the 2008 Games in same category, following up silver medal win in Athens in 2004. Verbeek is the first Canadian woman to medal in Olympic wrestling.
In 2002 she helped lead the Brock women’s wrestling team to their first ever CIS National Championship. She was named the Brock Female Athlete of the Year twice in 1999-2000 and 2000-01.
Verbeek takes to the mats on Thursday, Aug. 9.
Jessica Lewis, Wheelchair Track
Jessica Lewis heads to the Paralympics to leave her mark in the 100-, 200- and 400-metre wheelchair track events.
The inclusive and therapeutic recreation student will compete in her first Games for Bermuda, where she was born, though she holds dual citizenship. Lewis is Bermuda’s first para-athlete to compete in wheelchair track, a sport she started training for in 2008.
She competes Wednesday, Sept. 5.
Joel Dembe, Wheelchair Tennis
Brock Alumni Joel Dembe will serve up some serious competition on the court when he competes in the men’s singles and doubles wheelchair tennis events at the Paralympic games.
Dembe, who is ranked No. 1 in Canadian men’s wheelchair tennis, also hopes to better his world standing. He’s currently the 36th best in the sport globally.
This is Dembe’s first Games. In 2011, he left the security of a marketing job in Toronto’s financial district to train full-time for world competition on the court.
Watch Dembe in action in the men’s singles on Saturday, Sept. 1. He and tennis partner Philippe Bedard compete in the doubles competition Sunday, Sept. 2.
Marty Calder, Team Canada Wrestling Coach
Marty Calder heads to the Games in his sixth season as Team Canada’s head coach and his 18th season with the Brock men’s and women’s wrestling program.
The St. Catharines native and former two-time Olympian (1992, 1996) has coached Olympian Tonya Verbeek since 2000 and become one of Canada’s top wrestling coaches.
Calder has also worked with two-time Olympic medalist Evan MacDonald, Saeed Azarbayjani and Canadian Senior Champions Jessica MacDonald, Michelle Fazzari and Ryan Weicker. He is currently the coach of the Canadian Men’s National Program.
Terry Paul, Senior Men’s National Rowing Coach
Terry Paul heads to London for his fifth stint as national rowing coach, following up his success coaching the men’s pair to a silver medal in Beijing in 2008.
As Team Canada’s cox at the 1992 Games in Barcelona, Paul helped his team to a gold medal win. Since then, he has gained much experience coaching Canadian men and women rowers, and with the Swiss national team.
Paul rowed for the Brock Badgers from 1983 to 1987. As a student athlete, he led Team Canada to a bronze medal at the World University Games in 1987. In 1990 and 1991, he helped Canada to back-to-back silver medals at the World Rowing Championships as cox.
Jeff Dunbrack, Lead Coach, National Adaptive Rowing Program
He heads to his first Paralympics as lead coach of the National Adaptive Rowing program with extensive coaching experience at the elite level.
Since 2010, he has coached the adaptive rowing team to gold and silver medal finishes in world championship competition.
Dunbrack rowed for Brock University from 1998 to 2003. He helped lead the Badgers to several championship titles and was named Brock Oarsman of the Year in 2001-02. He joined Brock’s rowing coaching staff as an assistant in 2004 and 2005.
But his experience in athletics extends beyond the reach of his oar. Dunbrack served as high performance co-ordinator with Wheelchair Basketball Canada between 2006 and 2010. During that time, he served as team leader for the men’s team, which won a silver medal in 2008 at the Paralympics in Beijing.
Elisabeth Walker-Young, Assistant Chef de Mission, Paralympic Games
Elisabeth Walker-Young will serve in London as assistant chef de mission – a role that requires her to be a diplomat, cheerleader, planner and athlete spokesperson.
The Brock alumna is only the second Canadian Paralympian to have the job. Since 2010, she has been helping to prepare for the Games with site visits to London to get a sense of the facilities and share that information with athletes, team leaders, sponsors and partners.
Elisabeth competed in Paralympic Games at Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney and Athens, swimming her way to three gold medals, one silver and two bronze medals in Paralympic competition.
Walker-Young was a member of the Brock Badgers swim team from 1997 through 2002, winning nearly every race she in which she competed in and setting multiple national and world records.
Jennifer Turner, Chiropractor for Canada’s cycling team
Brock alumna and Badger swimmer Jennifer Turner will help keep Canada’s track, road and BMX cyclists in tune in London, serving as a chiropractor for the athletes.