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Surrey rower wins bronze for Canada at Tokyo Olympics

B.C.-based pair led after 500 and 1,000 metres, and sat second with a quarter of the race to go
Canada’s Caileigh Filmer (left) and Hillary Janssens show off their bronze medals, won in the women’s pair rowing final event during the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games, in Tokyo, Thursday, July 29, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Another Olympic medal is coming home to Surrey.

On Thursday, Surrey’s Hillary Janssens, along with her partner, Caileigh Filmer of Victoria, won a bronze medal in rowing at the Tokyo Olympics – Canada’s first medal in the event since Marnie McBean and Kathleen Heddle won gold at the 1992 Games in Barcelona.

Janssens said the medal was all the more meaningful because Heddle died of cancer at age 55 in January, while McBean is serving as the country’s chef de mission in Tokyo.

“That’s so special,” she said. “I’m so glad to be able to do that. Especially in memory of Kathleen… thinking about her family, and obviously Marnie’s here and I hope Marnie watched that and is proud.

“Two of the most amazing Canadian athletes and we’re so happy to continue their legacy.”

The 2018 world champions finished behind New Zealand’s Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler (6:50.19) and the Russian Olympic Committee’s Vasilisa Stepanova and Elena Oriabinskaia (6:51.45).

The B.C.-based pair led after 500 and 1,000 metres, and sat second with a quarter of the race to go before hanging on for bronze late with a hard-charging boat from Britain on their tail.

After crossing the finish line and seeing their time on the scoreboard, a visibly spent Janssens collapsed backwards into the arms of Filmer, who slumped forward in exhaustion.

“The first 1,000 (metres) was about being physical,” Filmer said. “And the second half was about rowing with our heart.

“I’m just proud.”

The bronze medal is the second medal for Surrey-area Olympians this week. Earlier, Canada’s softball team won bronze with a victory over Mexico. That team featured South Surrey’s Sara Groenewegen – a former White Rock Renegades star – as well as Danielle Lawrie, who is also a former Renegade, and Delta’s Kelsey Harshman.

—The Canadian Press

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