Gold among P.E.I.'s first two medals at Canada Games

Vanessa Keefe of Oyster Bed Bridge captured the gold for Prince Edward Island Thursday at the 2022 Canada Summer Games, being held in Niagara, Ont.

Games started last weekend

The podium for wrestling at Canada Games 2022.
Vanessa Keefe, centre, seen on the podium. (P.E.I. Canada Games team/Twitter)

Vanessa Keefe of Oyster Bed Bridge captured the gold for Prince Edward Island Thursday at the 2022 Canada Summer Games, being held in Niagara, Ont.

It was one of two medals won by P.E.I. Thursday, the first two of the games for the Island. The games started last weekend.

The 18-year-old Keefe defeated Natalie Vecchio of Ontario in wrestling, after advancing over Saskatchewan in the semifinal. She went 7-0 through the team and individual competition.

Keefe said she was in it to win it.

"I kind of dominated my pool," she said. "My last girl for the gold medal match, I finished like three seconds before it would have been done. That's the time I teched her at and it was really hard, but I got it done."

Training pays off

Keefe, who's participated in the games before, said the win was the culmination of six years of hard work that only stopped for a brief period during the pandemic.

She's been training with team P.E.I. for the last year and a half. In the last stretch before the competition, she was wrestling four days a week. 

But she said all that training paid off once she realized she had it.

"I was very tired, but once I was ahead by so much and I thought that there was 20 seconds left, I knew I had it and I knew it was mine and I kind of started nodding to the crowd because I knew it was over," she said. "It was a long time coming."

R. J. Hetherington of Stratford took home a bronze medal in the competition.

Joanne Wallace, chef de mission for Team P.E.I., said the team has seen really good results for beach volleyball, rugby 7s, and in the swimming pool. But Wallace said the wrestling team's achievement will really galvanize Island athletes.

"They're pretty excited, right?," she said. "They see that anything is possible and there's just so much energy from Team Prince Edward Island ... It brings in a lot of energy to the whole the whole squad."

The Canada Games will close Aug. 21.

With files from Angela Walker


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