On the heels of making history at the world aquatic championships, Josh Liendo continues to break down barriers.
The 19-year-old from Toronto captured a gold medal in the 100-metre butterfly at the Commonwealth Games on Tuesday, as part of a powerhouse Canadian swim team that has seemingly taken up permanent residence on the global medal podium.
Liendo became the first Black Canadian swimmer to win an individual medal at a major international championship when he won bronze in the 100 fly in Budapest in June. Canadian sprint star Donovan Bailey was among those who reached out to say congratulations in the days that followed.
“That was super, super cool,” Liendo said. “It’s just been fun, it’s been a great experience, and there’s more to come, so I’m excited.”
Liendo said he’s happy to pave a path for others.
“It definitely feels great,” he said. “People coming up to me, and obviously mentioning it and noticing it and all the support that I’m getting, I definitely love it.
“And I love to see that I’m a role model, because obviously I have people that I look up to, and thinking that I’m in that light and being seen that way in other people’s eyes is really cool.”
The medal was the first of three for Canada in the pool on Tuesday. Aurelie Rivard, a 10-time Paralympic medalist from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., won silver in her Para category of the 200 individual medley. And the mixed 4x100 relay of Kylie Masse, James Dergousoff, Maggie Mac Neil and Ruslan Gaziev captured silver.
Canada’s women’s basketball teams swept gold on Tuesday, while Maya Laylor won the women’s 76-kilogram class of women’s weightlifting, and Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard added to Canada’s gold-medal tally by winning the 63-kilogram judo final.
Canada is third on the overall medal table with 46 (11 gold, 16 silver, 19 bronze). Australia leads the way with 106, while England is second (86).
In 3x3 basketball, which made its Commonwealth Games debut, Sarah Te-Biasu of Montreal scored the game-winner with two seconds to play to lift Canada to a thrilling 14-13 win over England.
“I was really confident. I knew it was two seconds left, and my teammates said just grab the ball and go. That’s what I did,” Te-Biasu said. “I was so proud.”
Rosalie Mercille, Tara Wallack and Taya Hanson rounded out the Canadian team.
Te-Biasu, a sophomore guard at VCU, had very little experience in the 3x3 halfcourt game before arriving in Birmingham.
“It was hard at the beginning, because it’s really fast and quick,” she said on the adjustment. “I didn’t know the rules, and I had two weeks to prepare. I just love it now. It’s an amazing game.”
Canada’s wheelchair women’s 3x3 basketball team of Elodie Tessier, Tamara Steeves, Tara Llanes and Kady Dandeneau captured gold with a 14-5 victory over Australia.
“This crowd feels amazing like I’m having like an out-of-body experience right now, especially after not having the crowd for like two years [due to the COVID-19 pandemic], this is full on you just want to soak it up,” Llanes said.
The men’s wheelchair 3x3 basketball team of Bo Hedges, Vincent Dallaire and Colin Higgins lost to Australia 11-9 in the gold-medal game.
Canada’s men’s 3x3 basketball team of Alex Johnson, Jordan Jenson Whyte, Bikramjit Gill and Adam Paige beat Scotland 13-12 to win bronze.
“Glad to be a part of it,” Gill said. “Hopefully we’re taking steps in the right direction [for the 3x3 game in Canada].”
In weightlifting, Laylor’s strategy to climb the podium was to be just a bit better than everyone else.
It paid off for the 27-year-old from Toronto. Her opening lift of 123 kilograms in the clean and jerk was enough to secure gold. She then lifted 128 kilograms for a total of 228 kilograms, both Commonwealth Games records, and 12 kg better than Nigeria’s silver medalist Taiwo Liadi.
“The snatch is a hit or miss, everyone would say so,” Laylor said. “I didn’t have it quite there yet in the snatch, but kept focused for the clean and jerk. I opened at 123, that was a strong lift, and then 128, went for the Commonwealth record, did that I gave it my all today.”
Beauchemin-Pinard’s victory was the first of three judo medals for Canada on Tuesday.
“It’s something to put on my CV, something more,” Beauchemin-Pinard said. “It’s the first time I’ve participated in the Commonwealth Games, and the opening ceremony was so nice to do, so [many] people and meeting all the [people from other] sports, that was really nice too.”
The 28-year-old from Montreal, who won bronze in the event at last summer’s Tokyo Olympics, beat England’s Gemma Howell in the gold-medal bout.
François Gauthier Drapeau of Alma, Que., captured silver in the men’s 81 kg judo final on Tuesday, while Mohab El Nahas, a 26-year-old from Montreal, defeated Asa Weithers of Barbados by ippon to take bronze in the men’s 81 kg.
Canada’s Emma Spence captured her third gymnastics bronze medal of the Games, in the women’s balance beam.
The 19-year-old from Cambridge, Ont., also won bronze in the women’s team and all-around finals.