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In 2015 the Pan American and Parapan American Games made their home in Toronto and the GTA and Aurora was swept up in the sporting enthusiasm! Learn about some local sporting heroes!
A photograph of a skiier mid-way through a jump.
Photo courtesy of Malcolm Carmichael

BRIAN STEMMLE
ALPINE SKIING – 1990

In 1990, Brian Stemmle competed in the first and only Winter Pan Am Games which were held in Las Leñas, Argentina.

A four-time Olympian, Brian is regarded as one of the greatest alpine skiers in Canadian history. As a member of the Canadian National Team from 1985 to 1999, Stemmle represented Canada at the 1988, 1992, 1994 and 1998 Olympic Winter Games; a record that has never been matched by a Canadian ski racer.

During his 15 years of international competition, Brian competed in 93 World Cup races, attaining 3 podium finishes and placing in the top 10 on 15 separate occasions. His rise to prominence was the most rapid of any ski racer in the International Ski Federation, rising to 7th position in his first two years on the World Cup Circuit.

A six-time medalist at the Canadian Championships, Brian now continues to inspire a wide audience, including children and aspiring athletes, through motivational speaking engagements.

Brian has always considered Aurora his home and Aurora is now recognized world-wide as the birthplace of one of skiing’s greatest competitors. He was inducted into the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Inaugural class of the Aurora Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

A black and white photograph of an equestrian team in uniform.
Photo courtesy of Brian Herbinson June Fallaw©

CANADIAN EQUESTRIAN TEAM EQUESTRIAN – 1959 / 1971 / 1975 / 1983

In 1959 the team of Thomas Gayford, Norman Elder, Brian Herbinson, James Elder, and coach Anatole Pieregorodski struck gold in the Three-Day Event for Canada. Their win represented the first Gold medal that Canada had ever received in international equestrian sports.

Aurora residents James Elder and Brian Herbinson, along with John Rumble, had previously competed for Canada at the 1956 Olympics in Stockholm where they won the bronze medal – an impressive display for this relatively inexperienced team of riders.

While Brian’s life drew him away from international competition, he continued to ride and was an active member of the Toronto & North York Hunt Club where he was Master of the Foxhounds for many years. James Elder, along with Thomas Gayford and James Day found continued success in equestrian events including the gold medal in show jumping at the 1968 Olympics and additional medals at the Pan-Am Games in 1971, 1975 and 1983.

James and his late wife, Marianne, operated Elderberry Hill Farm on Yonge Street in Aurora for 50 years. It was here at Elderberry that the first grand prix jumping competition in North America was held in 1961. James was inducted into the Inaugural class of the Aurora Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

A black and white photo of four women in competitive swimsuits.
Janice Jones third from left - photo courtesy of Janice Jones

JANICE (SHEPP) JONES
SWIMMING – 1959

Janice (Shepp) Jones earned a Silver medal in the Medley Relay at the 1959 Pan American Games in Chicago with fellow teammates Margaret Iwaski, Sara Barber, and Sandra Scott. The Canadian record holder in the 100m breaststroke, Janice also placed 5th at the games in the 200m event.

Moving to Aurora in the 1970s Janice started the Aurora Ladies Volleyball League in 1979; organized the Women in Sport Conference for York Region female High School athletes in 1984; started the York Region Athletic Association Swimming Conference in 1986 where she was the coach of championship teams for 14 years; and received a National Achievement Award from the Province of Ontario for distinguished performance in the field of Amateur sport in 1991.

This impressive athlete continued her success in the pool as the Canadian Masters Swimming Champion in 1991 and 1992 in the 50, 100, and 200m breaststroke. Topping off her career were podium finishes in the IV World Masters Championships were she received the Bronze medal in 50m breaststroke, and Silver in the V World Masters Swimming Championship in that same event in 1994. In 1997 she was named Ontario Swimming Coach of the Year by OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations).

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Photo courtesy of Aurora Sports Hall of Fame

ROBERT BEDARD
TENNIS – 1959

In 1959, Canadian singles tennis champion Robert Bedard won the Silver medal at the Pan-Am Games in Chicago. Unmatched in Canadian Tennis, Robert was ranked #1 in Men’s tennis for 11 consecutive years from 1955 - 1965. He won 3 Canadian Open singles titles, 3 men’s doubles titles, and a mixed doubles championship. Robert also represented Canada 15 times in Davis Cup competition.

In 1972 Robert came to Aurora as a teacher at St. Andrew’s College where he coached tennis, hockey and track and field. In 1981 he was named the School’s sixth Headmaster and during his tenure as Headmaster, St. Andrew’s teams went on to win Senior Championships 82 times.

Tennis remains his playing passion and he has won numerous Canadian Senior titles; his most recent accomplishment being the Canadian Over-75 Champion. Robert was inducted into the Inaugural class of the Aurora Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

A black and white action photograph of a swimmer taking a breath during a race.
Photo courtesy of Dan Thompson

DAN THOMPSON
SWIMMING – 1979

Dan Thompson earned two Silver medals at the 1979 Pan Am Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico – one in the 100m Butterfly and the second as a member of the 4 x 100m medley relay. He was a seven year member of Canada’s National swim team striking gold in the 100m Butterfly at the Commonwealth Games in 1978 held in Edmonton. In 1980 he qualified for the Olympics Games, but wasn’t able to represent his country due to the international boycott of the Moscow Games.

During his career he tied the world short-course record in the 100m Butterfly and set 14 Canadian and Commonwealth records in Butterfly.

Dan moved to Aurora in 2008 and began swimming for the Aurora Master Ducks Swim Club. During this time as a Masters Competitor, Dan has broken 6 world records and 17 Canadian Records. He is the fastest man on record in the 50m and 100m butterfly for men 50-54 years and 55-59 years.

Dan was the CEO of Skate Canada, is a Board Member of the Ontario Sport Institute and a member of the Swim Canada’s 2015 Pan Am Games Committee.

A photograph of a young woman on a trampoline with her coach in front, judges sit at a long table in the background.
Photo courtesy of Skyriders Trampoline Place

SAMANTHA SENDEL
TRAMPOLINE – 2015

Samantha Sendel was selected as an alternate for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games Canadian Trampoline Team.

Samantha has been a member of the Canadian Senior National Team for five years. She has been at the top of the podium on the National and World stages for a number of years competing in both individual and synchronized trampoline. At the World Cup Belarus in 2014 Samantha placed 1st in synchronized trampoline with teammate Rosie MacLennan and 4th in the individual event.

Samantha is a resident of Aurora and currently trains in Richmond Hill at Skyriders Trampoline Place.

A photograph of a swimmer in a yellow cap and goggles, sitting with their knees up.
Photo courtsey of Ducks Swimming

NYDIA LANGILL
PARA SWIMMING – 2015

Nydia Langill qualified to compete in the 2015 Parapan Am Games in Toronto in swimming. Her two best events are the 100m breaststroke and the 200m individual medley. Nydia was on Team Canada for the 2014 Pan Pacific Para-swimming Championships in Pasadena, California and gained plenty of racing experience finishing sixth in the 100-m breaststroke and 50-m butterfly.

Nydia was born nine weeks premature and was diagnosed at 18 months with a mild form of Cerebral Palsy. As a child she underwent several surgeries to correct bones and muscles affected by her condition. Her physiotherapist suggested that swimming would be good for Nydia in her recovery. She got involved in para swimming at the age of 9 and has been unstoppable ever since.

After a few different coaches and swim clubs, Nydia started swimming for the DUCKS under the supervision of Craig Mortimer. She has been a member of DUCKS SWIMMING since 2011.

She lists four people as her biggest influences. Her father Brett Langill for convincing her she was able to achieve her dreams; her mother Claudia for her unwavering support; her first swimming coach Rafael Polinario who instilled her love of swimming and Vicki Keith for her dedication to Para swimming.

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Photo courtesy of Yuriy Brozdnychenko

YURIY BROZDNYCHENKO
BADMINTON – 2015

Yuriy Brozdnychenko will officiate in the Badminton events at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto. His interest in the sport reaches back to 1986 in the Ukraine when he was working on his PhD in thermodynamics and was asked to join the badminton team at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute. A competitive table tennis player, it took Yuriy a few years to catch up to his team-mates.

Yuriy moved to Canada in 2001 and to Aurora in 2003 where he discovered the Aurora Badminton Club. Since that time he has been actively practicing his skills and participating in most of the tournaments held by the Georgian Bay District Badminton Association.

In 2013, Yuriy began coaching badminton to kids aged 6-12 at the Favourite Badminton Club in Newmarket. Also that year he began training as a line judge for the 2015 Pan Am Games. Yuriy was fortunate to have had the opportunity to be part of the officials to judge the game of one of the greatest badminton players of modern time – Peter Gade when he played an exhibition match at the Markham Pan Am Centre in May, 2015.

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