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Boady Santavy doesn't plan to return home empty-handed. The Sarnia weightlifter is one of about a dozen athletes from the Windsor-Essex, Chatham-Kent, and Sarnia-Lambton region who've earned a spot on the Canadian Olympic team.
This will be Santavy's first Olympics. While he knows competition in his 96-kilogram weight class will be fierce, he's confident about making it to the podium.
"A gold medal is the main goal for sure." said Santavy. "But I know it's going to be a pretty competitive weight class. I probably have the most competitive class in the Olympics in weightlifting. There are at least 10 guys out of the 16 who are going to be close to medal contenders. We know that as long as I do the weights that I want to do, then a gold medal is possible, a medal for sure. A medal is the goal, nothing less."
Santavy brought home silver from the 2019 Pan American Games. He leaves for Tokyo July 16 and says he has a few long training days lined up by his coach, who is also his father.
Weightlifting a family affair
Santavy comes from a long line of competitive weightlifters. His father, Dalas, competed at the Pan Am Games and world championships and his grandfather, Bob, was an Olympian. Santavy says he aims to surpass grandpa at the Olympic level.
"I could tell that he thought it was pretty cool that I'm following in his footsteps. But hopefully I'm going to beat him. Well I've [already] beaten his weights but hopefully I'm going to start getting those silver [and] golds, " said Santavy.
No spectators, no problem
This week, Tokyo declared a state of emergency because of rising COVID-19 infections, which means all spectators will be banned from Olympic venues.
Santavy says while the move is disappointing, it likely won't affect athletes.
"It probably won't affect many athletes at all, to be honest. An athlete at this level should be able to compete through any circumstance," said Santavy. "If anything, the silence will be helpful I guess."
Windsor track athlete Noelle Montcalm is also heading to Tokyo, as part of the Canadian team. She had hoped for at least some local fans, but instead will rely on her large cheering squad back home to keep her motivated.
"I know that many athletes try to disconnect from social media when they are away competing, but I really hold on to that myself when I am travelling because I know I have such a supportive base back home," said Montcalm.
Unlike Santavy, this is not Montcalm's first Olympic experience. She ran the 400-metre hurdles at the 2016 Games in Rio, finishing 18th. She was also a member of the fourth place team in the 4x400-metre relay.
She says that previous experience should help in settling nerves and adjusting to life in the athletes village.
Montcalm is aiming to improve her individual ranking, perform a personal best and get a medal in the relay.
"We finished fourth in Rio as a team so hopefully we can crack the podium," said Montcalm.
She has one last race in California before flying to Tokyo. Perfect timing for a tune-up, says Montcalm, before hitting the Olympic stage.
Olympians from Windsor/Sarnia/Chatham areas
Melissa Bishop-Nriagu - Athletics - Eganville
Bridget Carlton - Basketball - Chatham
Julia Greenshields - Wrestling - Sarnia
Noelle Montcalm - Athletics - Windsor
Brandon McBride - Athletics - Windsor
Kylie Masse - Swimming - LaSalle
Breanne Nicholas - Rugby - Blenheim
Dayna Pidhoresky - Athletics - Tecumseh
Boady Santavy - Weightlifting - Sarnia
Jordy Steen - Wrestling - Tecumseh
Chris von Martels - Equestrian - Ridgetown