August 4, 2015
Toronto, ON — After an intense day of fencing, swimming and equestrian show jumping, Donna Vakalis put in an outstanding signature performance in the final combined event in the Modern Pentathlon at the Pan American Games in Toronto on July 18th.
The effort had her overtaking several athletes including teammate Melanie McCann to finish just out of the medals in 4th place. This result brings with it Olympic qualification for RIO2016 for the Toronto based athlete who also competed at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Melanie McCann (Mount Carmel, ON) finished 5th and rookie Hillary Elliott (Ingersoll, ON) at just 17 years of age came in 16th place.
Vakalis reflected on her performance:
“I went into this competition with two top goals. One of those was to earn an Olympic berth and the other was to be on the podium. I am left elated for having made my goal of earning an Olympic berth and I am now hungry for the next chance to have my best competition ever!”
Competition was fierce over the weekend with 22 female and 29 male athletes vying for coveted qualification spots for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Canadian athletes competing in the men’s event included Alberta’s Joshua Riker-Fox (Calgary, AB) and Garnett Stevens (Rockland, ON), both putting in solid performances to finish 11th and 13th respectively. A highlight for Garnett was his first place ride with 293 points.
On this rare opportunity to take part in a home town event of this caliber, Vakalis reflected:
“As a pentathlete, I felt fortunate to have Canada hosting a pentathlon competition of this scale. It means we had our community of training partners, neighbours, coworkers, friends and family all come out to support the national pentathlon team, in person… with all the extra performance-boosting vigorous cheering that comes with a hometown crowd. During the competition, my teammates and I were lifted up by Team Canada.”
National Team Coach John Hawes commented:
“Our Pan Am Team members did a fantastic job here this weekend. Leading the team was Donna Vakalis who finished an exciting 4th to qualify for a RIO berth! Melanie McCann had a good day also to finish 5th in front of a very supportive home town crowd.”
Additional Olympic qualification opportunities continue with the World Cup and international events over the upcoming season.
Pentathlon Canada governs the sport of pentathlon in Canada, supporting our provincial associations and national team athletes in building a supportive environment for our sport. Pentathletes compete in five sports – fencing, swimming, equestrian riding, and a combined run and shoot – in a one-day competition.