Digging for gold

Canucks win Down Under in womens 45+ volleyball

They were Champions of the Universe. And of the land Down Under.

For Linda Mitchell Young, 50, the World Masters Games was the chance of a lifetime to represent Canada in her chosen sport of volleyball.

Shortening the team name from Champions of the Universe to COTU — for reasons of modesty — a team of eight ladies competed in the 45–50 age division in Sydney, Australia from Oct. 14–18.

“We all love being Canadian, but to actually be representing Canada — it’s a patriotic feeling that you don’t normally get to experience,” the Don Mills resident said. “It’s just incredible to still do this at this stage and age of my life.

“To compete at this high-calibre level, play teams from other countries and come out on top is a thrill that’s hard to describe.”

Dubbed Fit, Fun and Forever Young, the World Masters was held at the Sydney Olympic Park, the venue for the 2000 Summer Games.

It was a fitting motto for Mitchell Young, who was inspired by the athletes over 90 years old.

“This one lady … she was in her 90s and she was doing shot put,” she said. “She was throwing the shot put and then they had to bring the wheelchair to get her off the field because she couldn’t walk. But she could still throw a shot put.”

Team COTU went 16-2 on the road to the podium, losing only two matches to the strong defence of the Brazilians.

“The Brazilian girls were a lot shorter but they’re defence is … amazing,” Mitchell Young said. “We’d go up and absolutely crank a ball and it’s like, ‘How the hell did you guys get that?’

“But Brazilians, any time we’ve played them in these competitions, they’ve always been strong.”

The octet of hitters, setters and liberos prevailed, defeating a team from Finland in the finals.

Overall, the experience is what will stay with Mitchell Young.

“Just marching in at the opening ceremonies,” she said, “it’s just a real thrill to be able to be at that level where you’re marching into this stadium full of people and everybody’s like-minded.”

Along for the gold medal pursuit were Lee Bertrand and Andrea Pedrick from Pickering, Marie Gowans of Mount Albert, Uxbridger Janice Simmons and Mitchell Young’s fellow Torontonian Sharon Janes, who lives in Leaside.

Two members came from outside of Canada: Linda McLellan of Portland, Ore. and the team’s libero, Trish Bradley, from New Zealand.

One of the drawbacks of the games being in Australia was the hefty price tag, Mitchell Young said.

“We did actually have to put together a team a little bit more this time, just because it was a little too costly for a few of the others,” she said, adding several teammates from the GTA could not attend because of the cost.

Still, as the sun set on the Gold Coast, Mitchell Young took home a sense of accomplishment.

“I think just from a perspective of camaraderie, pride — the feeling of playing for your country — and the whole excitement of winning and losing,” she said. “Being there at the podium when you are getting your medal — it’s exciting.”

About this article:

By: Brian Baker
Posted: Nov 18 2009 5:22 pm
Filed in: Sports
Edition: Toronto