Test your ‘Medal’: Get in the Games in Waterloo Region

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by Alex Kinsella

After what has seemed like an eternity, the world is slowly starting to get back to normal. Events from small gatherings to epic concerts to major sporting events were canceled or postponed throughout the pandemic. Of all the events, there’s one in particular that sports fans and athletes have been eagerly awaiting – the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

That long wait comes to an end as the games officially kick off with the opening ceremonies on Friday, July 23, 2021 in Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium. The games will, of course, look very different from years past. COVID-19 restrictions are in place to keep athletes, coaches, and officials safe. Unfortunately, that means the world’s best amateur athletes will be competing without an audience of cheering spectators.

Back home, we’ll be showing our support for Team Canada’s 371 athletes from our homes and from favourite pubs and restaurants as they go for the gold. Waterloo Region is proud to have five athletes competing this year too!

We’ve put together a list of ways to experience Olympic sports across Waterloo Region to celebrate the games.

Beach Volleyball

Representing Canada in beach volleyball is Kitchener’s Sarah Pavan. Sarah and her partner, Toronto’s Melissa Humana-Paredes, are considered medal contenders this year in Tokyo. Here in Waterloo Region, there are two volleyball teams with programs and camps to introduce children to the game. The Kitchener-Waterloo Predators offer beginner and elite camps to help develop the next generation of Olympic athletes. Scorpions Beach Volleyball offers everything from learn to play to leagues and tournaments. There are also excellent beach volleyball options for adults. The City of Waterloo provides pickup and league beach volleyball through their Community Adult Recreation Leagues, known around town as CARL. The summer league at Bingemans Big Splash in Kitchener was unfortunately cancelled this year due to COVID, but they’re looking forward to welcoming players back in 2022! There are also beach volleyball courts across Kitchener – our favourites are the ones in McLennan Park!


In addition to beach volleyball, McLennan Park is a great location for our next sport – skateboarding. Making its official Olympic debut this year in Tokyo, there are park and street events with three skaters representing Team Canada. There are skateparks in Waterloo and Kitchener to practice your front sides and grinds to get ready for your Olympic games. In Kitchener, the Aud Skate Park has a bowl, quarter pipe, and concrete pad. In Waterloo, the new 5,000 square foot skatepark at the Albert McCormick Central Plaza is now open for skaters of all ages.


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Have your sights set on trying out dressage or jumping? Waterloo Region’s stables and equestrian facilities offer you and your family everything from lessons to day camps.

Our friends at Conestogo River Horseback Adventures have programs for everyone – from their Saddle Club for ages 7 to 14 all the way to their Adults Rodeo Club for those looking to develop horsemanship skills and have fun meeting new people. Hunterlane Stables, located in beautiful Breslau, is a boarding and lesson barn that offers horse riding training. The facilities are built for year-round learning with a heated indoor arena if you’re visiting during the winter. (Breslau is also home to the Waterloo Region International Airport, offering flights from across Canada and the U.S. on Sunwing, WestJet, and Flair airlines.)

Also in Breslau, Sonnenhof Stables offers dressage training for riders of all levels. Owner and coach Ute Busse has competed at the international level – and her daughters Tina and Sarah have followed with Tina representing Canada at the 2011 Pan Am Games, where she won a Silver Medal. Head west to the Baden area, and you’ll find Run 2 You Stables. In addition to lessons, Run 2 You Stables offers summer and Saturday day camps for young riders to experience riding and learn how to care for these fantastic animals.


Crispin Duenas and Stephanie Barrett are representing Team Canada in archery this year. While they’re not from Kitchener, both athletes have spent time in town working with local archery tech company Toxon Technologies to help develop the BOWdometer archery practice companion. Waterloo offers several great archery ranges in town, including the Galt Sportsmens and Pioneer Sportsmen clubs in Cambridge and The Bow Shop in Waterloo.

**DYK: Archery Canada held a training camp in Cambridge earlier this year? Read more here!**


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The excitement of canoe and kayak slaloms and sprints is hard to replicate. The rivers and lakes of Waterloo offer the chance for some fantastic views of nature and animals that you might not get a chance to stop and look at when you’re going for the gold. Canoeing The Grand offers canoe, kayak, and tubing trips along the Grand River.


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Boxer Mandy Bujold will have Waterloo in her corner when she enters the ring during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Want to see if you have what it takes to represent Canada in the ring? You can train like Mandy with local boxing legend Syd Vanderpool at SydFit. Syd offers personal training for adults and summer camps for kids to help them develop confidence, leadership, and fitness. Our local Waterloo Regional Boxing Academy is reopening later this summer and has options for boxers of all ages and skill levels.


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We’re cheering on all of the fantastic Canadian golfers representing Canada in Tokyo this summer. Locally, we’re excited to see Listowel’s Corey Conners go for gold – and we’ll be playing along at some of Waterloo’s best public golf courses. From the challenging course at Merry-Hill in Breslau to the beautiful Grey Silo Golf Course that runs along the Grand River, there’s no shortage of amazing golf experiences in Waterloo. Check out this post to discover more great golf experiences for your visit to Waterloo.


Alex Kinsella is a freelance writer and marketer based in Waterloo Region. He’s the guy behind TL;WR – Waterloo Region’s weekly events newsletter. He’s worked with some of Canada’s most well-known tech companies in roles including customer success, development, product management, PR, social media and marketing.

Alex has contributed to publications including BetaKit, Grand Magazine, Community Edition and more. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.


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