Nova Scotia

Record number of N.S. athletes heading to London

Eleven Nova Scotian athletes will be representing Canada at the Olympic games in London this month — a record number for the summer games.
Ellie Black is the first female Nova Scotian gymnast to qualify for the Olympics. (CBC)

Eleven Nova Scotian athletes will be representing Canada at the Olympic Games in London this month — a record number for the summer games.

On Sunday, sprinter Geoff Harris learned his first place finish at the Canadian Track and Field Championships  in Calgary solidified his position on the team.

Harris, 25, is from Halifax. He said on Twitter that his journey has been "unreal."

Nova Scotia typically sends rowers to the games, but this year, the athletes cover a diverse number of sports.

"I think that's opening up some eyes," said Ken Bagnell, the president of Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic.

He said over the last few years, a lot of investments have been made into athletics in Nova Scotia, and it's now paying off on an international stage.

"I think we're seeing that type of development cross a wide range of sports and fortunately, this time, a lot of things came together."

On Thursday, Ellie Black, 16, became the first female Nova Scotia gymnast to qualify for the Games.

Jason McCoombs, 19, is also participating in his first Olympic Games after qualifying for canoe.

They're joined by boxer Custio ClaytonAmy Cotton for Judomarathoner Eric Gillis, and sailor Danielle Dube.

International recognition

"We have these ready-made role models for our young people to be more active or to compete and know that they can be among the best — not only in Canada — but I think the bar now will be among the best in the world," said Bagnell.

Bagnell points to David Sharpe, a swimmer from Halifax, and Jenna Martin, a sprinter, who both peaked when their trips to the games were on the line.

Martin, 23, beat her personal best when she finished first at the Canadian Track and Field Championships in Calgary. She holds more than 50 Nova Scotia sprint records as she heads to London.

Ken Bagnell says the athletes going to the games are already role models. (CBC)

"We've had such incredible performances by some of our athletes at key times," Bagnell said.

As for medals, Bagnell said to look for the paddlers to finish near the top.

Kayaker Mark de Jonge of Halifax managed to come back from a potentially devastating injury to qualify for the games.

But Bagnell said these games are truly something to be excited about.

"You never know what's going to happen," Bagnell said. "I think it should make all Nova Scotians proud."

The London Games run from July 27 to Aug. 12.