TSC Athletes Representing Canada: Pan Am Games and Triathlon World Championships

Last year’s crop of TSC athletes included a talented bunch across all sports. Earlier in the year, our Men’s and Women’s Ultimate team had 18 athletes represent Canada at the World Flying Disc Federation U24 Championships.

Fast forward to now and we’ve had two triathletes represent Canada on an international stage and one current athlete and one recent alumnus, competing at the Pan Am games with potential Olympic aspirations.

World Triathlon Championships

The 2023 Triathlon World Championships in Pontevedra, Spain saw 2 TSC triathletes suit up for Canada. Olivia Baldassare and Gabrielle (Gabby) Bourgault Kennaley competed in the Age-Group Championships.

For Olivia, she didn’t know she would be selected for Team Canada at first. At her qualifying race at the Toronto Triathlon Festival in July 2022 she just finished outside the automatic qualifying spots and had to wait to see if the athletes ahead of her had already qualified from another race or declined their offer. In November 2022, after months of waiting, the opportunity presented itself and a spot on the roster opened up. Olivia was heading to the World Championships in 2023.

For Gabby, competing at the world championships was not a new feat as she has attended three world championships before. However, this was her first time competing on an international stage at the Olympic distance which comprises of a 1.5 km swim, 39.5 km bike, and 10 km run. Regardless of how they got there, both athletes were stoked at the opportunity ahead of them.

“The energy in Pontevedra was insane! I was blown away at how many people came out to the opening ceremony and the races.” – Olivia Baldassare

Of all her international competition experiences, Gabby writes “Spain was the most inspirational of countries yet. It’s pretty surreal to be in some of the worst pain in your life, chasing down girls from Japan and New Zealand and the USA, all while not knowing what Spanish locals and international supporters are saying as they cheer you on.” With a buzzing atmosphere and the pride of their nation, they entered their races and gave it their all.

Olivia raced hard and put up a fast time of 2:43:18 despite having mechanical issues with her bike during the cycle portion. Gabby finished third in her age category at the Olympic distance with an incredible performance of 2:28:58. She had the fastest transition times in her age group as well as the fourth fastest swim time, seventh fastest bike time, and eighth fastest run.

Pan American Games

Two T-birds earned the honour to don the maple leaf for the Pan American games down in Santiago, Chile in the coming weeks. While their stories differ in how they got there, both look to show out at the games.


“I’m excited to go through the overall games experience and I’m ready for the competition ahead”

Jessica and UBC TSC sailors Angela, Jamie and Nelson during their Western Canadian Championship push.

Jessica (Jess) Hirschbold and her crew of Luke Ramsay and Rachel Green qualified for the Pan Am Games from their first overall finish in July at the Candian Open Lightning Championships at the Kitsilano Yacht Club. Of eight races, Jess and crew won five of them, earning them the nomination to represent Canada.

When asked about qualifying for the games the Victoria native wrote, “Qualifying for the Pan Am games was definitely unexpected but feels extremely rewarding for all of the work I’ve put into the sport over the years. The whole experience is kind of surreal and I don’t think I’ll believe it until I’m in Chile.”

Jess and her crew will be competing in a type of boat called a lightning, which is a 3-person mixed boat (2 female and 1 male sailor). Jess has competed in some international events, including the 2021 Youth Sailing World Championships where she took 18th in the Women’s 29er, and in the Canada games. but has never gone to a major multi-sport competition.

This competitive season for the T-Birds, Jessica has already made a splash – contributing to a Western Canadian Championship for UBC this October.

In the future, she plans on competing in a 2 person mixed boat known as the 470. She aims to compete in the Junior Worlds next year and has Olympic aspirations, aiming to make the games in 2028.

Table Tennis

Not a stranger to international competition, Ivy Liao has worked hard throughout her table tennis career and proved to be one of North America’s up-and-coming stars. Last year, Ivy represented Canada at the 2022 ITTF World Team Championships last October where she faced the top competition in the world. As a Thunderbird, she played a key role in the Table Tennis SC’s fifth place finish at NCTTA Nationals.

Ivy and her fellow ‘birds celebrating a key point at Nationals. Photo credit: Dennis Yanga

To make the team, Ivy competed in a rigorous 32-person selection tournament held, with Canada’s finest table tennis athletes. Her performance earned her one of the six spots on Canada’s table tennis team for the 2023 Pan American Championships in Cuba and the Pan American Games in Chile. These competitions are vital as they serve as the first round of qualifications for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

At the Pan American Championships in Cuba, she made the Women’s Doubles Finals and the Round of 32 in Singles. In Chile, she hopes to build off her strong performance and work towards an Olympic qualification for Canada.

Congratulations to our athletes on qualifying or being selected to represent Canada! Good luck to Jessica and Ivy as they take on other countries later on in the month.