Van Knotsenburg increases Pam Am rowing metal count

Canada picked up more rowing medals as the Pan Am regatta wrapped up in Guzman, Mexico.

On Wednesday, the men’s eight, featuring Beamsville’s Steven Van Knotsenburg, won a silver metal – coming in with a time of 5:41.01. The U.S. won in 5:39.32, and Argentina was a very close third in 5:41.77.

“The race was kind of bittersweet, we really wanted to go for gold,” said Kai Langerfeld, a double Pan Am medalist (another silver in the men’s four) who is rowing in his first major international competition. “Overall, it’s been an amazing experience – it’s not just my first major international regatta, it’s also a games – so I’ve been taking it all in.”

Van Knotsenburg’s team mates included Peter McClelland of Aurora/King City, ON, Spencer Crowley of Lantzville, BC, Blake Parsons of Toronto, ON, David Wakulich of St. Catharines, ON, Kai Langerfeld of Parksville, BC, Benjamin de Wit of Nakusp, BC, Joshua Morris of Victoria, BC, and coxswain Mark Laidlaw of Mississauga, ON.

“We thought we had it in us to win gold, but overall it was a good effort,” said team veteran Steven Van Knotsenburg, also a double medal winner. “It was fun to row with a new group of guys, it keeps it fresh.”

On Tuesday, men’s pair Steven Van Knotsenburg of Beamsville, ON, and Peter McClelland of Aurora/King City, ON, finished third overall.

“We had a decent start and stayed in the pack,” said McClelland. “I felt we did good work through the middle of the course. Steve told me to go and I went for it! I’m proud of the result today.”

The U.S. won in 6:47.07, Brazil was second in 6:48.74 and Canada’s time was 6:50.80.

“It really started to come together for us as a pair two weeks ago,” said Van Knotsenburg, who took a bronze medal in the coxed pair event at this year’s World Championships. “And today, even though the conditions were tough, I felt we handled them well. It really helped to have a lot of experience in different boats and rowing conditions. … The crowd and atmosphere here at Guzman is great.”

In what was the first race and first medal of Tuesday for Canada, Isolda Penney of Kingston, Ont. was third in her women’s single final. Despite a lead at the 1500 mark, Penney was overtaken by the U.S. (7:53.05) and Argentina (7:55.55).

“Today’s final was not ideal …. The competition here was good and I am very happy to be part of the Pan Am Games experience,” Penney said after today’s race. Canada’s time was 8:06.88.

The Canadian lightweight men’s double scull boat of Terry McKall of Edmonton, AB, and Travis King of St. Catharines, ON, was also third in 6:29.27. Mexico put on a show for the home crowd to win gold in 6:24.52, and Cuba edged out Canada to get silver (6:27.07).

“We were moving well in the last 400, and then we hit some bad water and lost an oar, but we recovered and got back in it,” said King. “It’s great to be able to go home with some hardware and it’s motivation to go back and train hard throughout the winter.”

The first medal on the final day of the regatta for Canada was a silver in the women’s quad. Canada’s time was 6:37.68. Argentina won in 6:34.46, and the U.S. took bronze 6:39.36.

The quad is Audra Vair of Creemore, ON, Elizabeth McCord of Toronto, ON, Melanie Kok of St. Catharines, ON, and Isolda Penney of Kingston, ON.

“It was a very strong race and I think we did the best we could today,” said Vair, who also won bronze in the women’s double (with McCord) at this Pan Am Games. “It’s so satisfying. It’s the first time I’ve been to a games like this and to go away with two medals is an elating experience.”

Also on Wednesday, in the B final of the men’s single event, Mike Braithwaite of Duncan, B.C. was first, or seventh overall.

Canada’s lightweight men’s four was fifth overall this morning in 6:13.53. Cuba won in 6:06.06. This crew is Terence McKall of Edmonton, AB, Travis King of Grimsby, ON, Eric Woelfl of St. Catharines, ON, and Derek Vinge of Fernie, BC.

Overall, Canadian rowers bring home three silver and five bronze medals at these games. Canada was tied for second in overall medal count with the U.S. and Argentina. Cuba was first in medal count.