• Norm Nelson

Toronto pair Ghislaine Landry and Charity Williams help Canada to Olympic bronze medal in women’s ru

Charity Williams Olympic Rugby Bronze

A couple of Toronto residents played a key role in helping Canada earn a bronze medal in women’s rugby sevens at the Rio Olympics Monday, Aug. 8.

And both say they were introduced to the sport in Grade 9 at their respective Toronto high schools – 28-year-old Ghislaine Landry at Lawrence Park Collegiate and 19-year-old Charity Williams at Central Tech.

“As a kid it was my dream, today it’s a medal around my neck. What a feeling!,” tweeted Landry, who again led the Canadian team in scoring with 41 points.

Both Landry and Williams quickly graduated to club level – Landry, who grew up in the area of Lawrence Avenue and Avenue Road, with Toronto Scottish, and Williams with Markham Irish – and then on to provincial and national teams.

The Canadian team earned the bronze medal with a 33-10 win over Great Britain Monday, avenging an earlier 22-0 loss in a preliminary round game.

Canada was relegated to the bronze medal match with a 17-5 loss to eventual gold medalist Australia earlier Monday. Canada won its quarter-final game Sunday 15-5 over France to go along with wins in its two other preliminary round games, 45-0 over Japan and 38-0 over host Brazil.

The bronze was not unexpected – Canada had been Top 3 in the world the last couple of years.

And Landry leading the Canadian team in scoring over the six games in three days in Rio with 41 points, including a team-leading 18 points in the bronze medal win over Great Britain, was also not a surprise.

She has led the world rugby sevens series in scoring over the past three years, and is the series second top scorer of all time.

Williams chipped in her only try (five points) in Rio, scoring the lone Canadian try in the semifinal loss to eventual Olympic champion Australia.

It capped two incredible summers for the Canadian team, which won the rugby sevens event at the Pan Am Games in Toronto

In a year-end interview, Landry expected the Pan Am Games experience would set the stage for Rio

“It (the Pan Am Games) was our first multi-sport event for our team so we got a little bit of a taste of what that atmosphere is like.

“We know that Pan Ams is much smaller than the Olympics, but for us it was a good opportunity to see what the (athletes’) village was like, be part of Team Canada, meet other athletes, hear their stories and just start to learn.”

It was also a rare chance for her to compete in front of family, friends and supporters.

“I actually had 50 family members at Pan Ams watching,” she said. “To have them be there and be part of that was really important to me because they supported me my whole life. And to kind of share that moment with them was special.”

Williams, meanwhile, in a July interview just prior to leaving for Rio, told Metroland Media it was not a given that she would make the Canadian team at this early stage of her career despite being in the national team program for the last three years.

“I wouldn’t say I was completely confident that I would make selections,” she said. “But I was confident in the work I put out leading up.

“So at the end of the day, I knew I gave my very best. The rest would be up to the coaching staff, who looked at the year overall and training and came up with the best 12 they think will win Olympic gold.”

To say she was excited to get the call was an understatement:

“To be going to my first Olympics is such an accomplishment for me, especially because I am only 19,” she said. “Honestly, I don’t think there are any words really to describe this feeling. My one and only dream has come true while leaving me the opportunity to seize it again and again in future games.”

Taken from City Centre Mirror Author: Norm Nelson