Team Canada athletes “feel like celebrities” after special school visit

Team Canada athletes take questions from students at an elementary school in Dou

Team Canada athletes take questions from students at an elementary school in Douglas, Isle of Man.

DOUGLAS, ISLE OF MAN (September 8, 2011) – Canadian athletes competing at the Commonwealth Youth Games are describing an inspirational visit to an elementary school on the Isle of Man as an experience they’ll never forget.

The 21 athletes were visibly impressed with the loud and enthusiastic greeting they received today from more than 100 students aged 7 to 10 at Bella Cottier Primary School.


Sprinter, Denray Jean-Jacques (Ottawa, ON), is greeted by a young fan.

“It felt like we were celebrities,” said Vanessa McLeod (Toronto, ON) who will compete at the Commonwealth Youth Games this weekend in the 800 metres. “Everyone cheering for us was amazing. It gave me goose bumps, actually...I’ll never forget this experience.”

For weeks, the students have been learning about Canada and preparing for the arrival of their Canadian guests. In a large classroom, decorated with artwork and information about Canadian animals, geography – even Inukshuks – the students asked a wide range of questions: “How did you get here? What’s life like in Canada? How much do you earn? Do you ever eat at MacDonald’s?”

Team Canada athletes are all smiles as they interact with adoring young students who later participate in a fun outdoor training session.

“It’s such an honour to be part of the Canadian Team,” added Matthew Swanson of Vancouver, who is also an 800-metre runner. “It’s very neat to come in here and get this kind of attention.”

After the question and answer session, the Canadian athletes, led by members of the Team Canada coaching staff, took the children outside for a fun training session to teach the proper technique for exchanging the baton during a relay race. The Team Canada athletes had as much fun as the kids and cheered loudly as the students ran several relay races.

“I was surprised by the reaction of the students and my own reaction too,” said Mireille Aylwin-Descôteaux who will run for Canada in the women’s 2,000 metre steeplechase. “It’s an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

These Commonwealth Youth Games  will run from September 9th to 11th and bring together top athletes aged 14 to 18 from 63 Commonwealth nations and territories. Canadian athletes will compete in six sports: Athletics, Badminton, Boxing, Cycling, Men’s Gymnastics and Rugby 7’s. The full team list can be downloaded here and individual bios for the athletes and coaches can be found at

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Derek Johnston
Commonwealth Games Canada
(613) 794-1876