ROWERS, BASKETBALL STARS AND 1 FENCER: MEET THE HAMILTON-AREA ATHLETES HEADED TO THE PARIS OLYMPICS

Hamilton, Burlington and Niagara Region will have lots to cheer about when the Paris Olympics kick off July 26.

From high-profile athletes like the National Basketball Association's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to local stars such as sailor Will Jones, this area is well-represented in this year's games. 

Here are some of the local Olympians headed overseas.

This list will be updated as more sports' rosters are announced.

Goalkeeper Sabrina D'Angelo, 31, returns to the Olympics for Canada Soccer after winning a bronze medal at Rio 2016 and playing for Canada in numerous tournaments and events for more than a decade.

She plays for Arsenal in England's Women's Super League. She joined the team last year after four years with Swedish club Vittsjo GIK. 

D'Angelo played college soccer as a University of South Carolina Gamecock before joining the National Women's Soccer League's Western New York Flash in 2015. She moved to the North Carolina Courage in 2017 and then moved to Europe in 2019. 

Kia Nurse, a point guard with the Los Angeles Sparks in the Women's National Basketball Association, will take her third trip to the Olympics after leading Canada's team with 13 points per game in Tokyo in 2021.

Part of the renowned Hamilton sports family that includes National Hockey League player Darnell Nurse and Professional Women's Hockey League player Sarah Nurse, Kia won gold at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto and was a leader on the University of Connecticut women's basketball team that set an NCAA record for 111 consecutive wins in 2017. 

She was drafted by the New York Liberty in 2018, and has since played for the Phoenix Mercury and Seattle Storm before joining the Los Angeles Sparks following a trade in January. She is a two-time WNBA champion and was named a league all-star in 2019.

The pride of the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club in the city's North End, Will Jones's face is plastered on a banner outside the club as they prepare to support him in his Olympic run, his second after competing in Tokyo in 2021, where he placed 19th. It's a long way from when he first learned to sail, on a Laser with his dad at their cottage. 

Jones, 29, has been competing internationally since 2017, when he won the 49er Junior World Championships, according to his Sail Canada profile. A 49er is a two-person, high-performance skiff, named for its hull length of 4.99 metres. 

He will compete in Paris with partner Justin Barnes, from Pickering, Ont., and says his competition superstitions include "not shaving during a competition and wearing mismatched socks for good luck," according to Canada's Olympic team.

St. Catharines runner Mohammed Ahmed will compete for Canada in his fourth Olympic Games this summer, after appearing in the 10,000-metre race in London 2012, and both the 10,000-metre and 5,000-metre races in Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020. 

In Tokyo, he earned the silver medal in the 5,000-metre, Canada's first Olympic medal in long-distance track. That came just a few days after he finished sixth in the 10,000-metre, Canada's best Olympic result in that event since 1912. At the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Ahmed – whose nickname is "Mospeed," was the first Canadian to break the 27-minute mark in the 10,000-metre.

Ahmed attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied political science and saw much success in cross-country and track. He was the 2014 Big Ten Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year after finishing third in the 10,000-metre at the National Collegiate Athletics Association Championships.

Eleanor Harvey started fencing at 10 after deciding she wanted to be "an Olympian in something; a friend recommended fencing and she was pretty good right away," according to OIympics Team Canada

This will be her third trip to the Olympics, after placing seventh in individual foil in Rio 2016 – Canada's best-ever result in an individual fencing event. ("Foil forms the basis of modern fencing," according to the Olympics organization, describing the sword as a light weapon (0.5kg), 110cm in length, with a 90-centimetre, flexible blade.) She placed 16th in the same event in Tokyo 2020 while also placing fifth in the team foil event that year. 

Harvey won the NCAA championships in 2016 while an Ohio State University Buckeye. She graduated in 2018 with a bachelor of arts in psychology and gender studies and runs her own business, Lennygarb, putting her original designs on Canadian-made and upcycled clothing.

Swimmer Ella Jansen, 18, was named Swimming Canada's breakout swimmer of the year in 2022 and will compete at her first Olympics in Paris. She has competed in two World Aquatics Championships, in 2023 and 2024, and won five medals at the World Junior Swimming Championships in 2023. 

Jansen started swimming when she was six years old, and competes in freestyle, butterfly and medley races.

She is also an ardent pin collector, a passtime popular at multi-sport games. According to Swimming Canada, her favourite band is the Bee Gees, her favourite superhero is Spiderman and her pre-race meal is a bagel with cream cheese and a banana with peanut butter. 

Emma Grace Van Dyk got into swimming when she was young as a form of physiotherapy. Now, it's taking her all the way to the Paralympic Games in Paris.

Earlier this year, at the Paralympic team trials in May, she broke the Canadian record in the S14-class 100-metre backstroke. She also holds records in the 400-metre individual medley and the 200-metre butterfly.

Van Dyk also rows at a high level, and often competes with her sister, according to the Canadian Paralympic Committee. She has also worked for Parks Canada at Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake as a player in the War of 1812 re-enactment. 

Kristen Kit, 35, was the coxswain – the person who steers the boat and faces forward – for Canada's women's eight rowing crew when they won gold in Tokyo in 2021. It was her debut at the Olympics, but she'd already been to numerous international-level competitions, including the Paralympics in 2012 and 2016, where she won bronze in para rowing.

Kit began rowing in 2003 at the Sir Winston Churchill Rowing Club in St. Catharines, Ont., according to the Canadian Paralympic Committee. The Olympic Committee website adds that her grandfather was the teacher adviser who started the rowing team at her high school while she was in Grade 9 and that she coxed her first race in 2003, despite not knowing how to steer the boat. "Her team still won despite crossing the width of the course multiple times," it says.

She is also an accomplished road cyclist and now lives in Victoria, B.C.

Morgan Rosts went to Governor Simcoe Secondary School in St. Catharines before ending up as a rower for the University of Virginia Cavaliers. In 2015-2016, her varsity four crew placed third in the NCAA championships, and in 2017-2018 her varsity eight crew did the same.

One of the best-known Hamilton athletes heading to Paris for the Olympics, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a star player with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the National Basketball Association.

He attended St. Thomas More Catholic and Sir Allan MacNab secondary schools before moving to Tennessee to finish his high school career. He was drafted 11th overall in the NBA in 2018.

Often known just as SGA, the 25-year-old has compared his adopted city to his Hamilton hometown: "Small town. Quiet. A blue-collar city… People go to work, get their work done and live their lives. A lot of hard-working people in both cities."

2024-07-09T16:29:35Z dg43tfdfdgfd