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The Greatest Oakville Athlete – Round of 16 – Part 2/4

six of oakville's greatest athletes
The Greatest Oakville Athlete – Round of 16 – Part 2/4

Oakville has always succeeded in creating professional athletes, and all of them have always made Oakville proud. But who is the greatest Oakville athlete?

There is a constant debate in many sports about who is the “Greatest Of All Time”, and it only makes sense to try and determine who is Oakville’s “GOAT”.

To help us discover the greatest Oakville athlete, OakvilleNews.Org has created a knockout tournament to decide the winner. But like last time, we need your help.

The Round of 16 continues today, but before we dive into this set of matchups, let’s look at the results from the first two Round of 16 battles.

In an amazing upset, IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe beat four-time Grey Cup winning quarterback Damon Allen by 53% to 47%. Hinchcliffe took a commanding early lead, and while Allen staged a massive comeback, it wasn’t enough.

In the other matchup, Kara Lang also prevailed by the same margin. Unlike Allen vs. Hinchcliffe, her matchup with Vic Hadfield was neck and neck all the way through.

oakville greatest athlete bracket

This bracket will determine who is the greatest Oakville athlete. As the tournament progresses, it will be updated.

Today, we have an NHL captain facing off against an NFL-calibre kicker, and an Olympic legend against a rising rugby star.

 

MATCH 3 – John Tavares vs. Mike Vanderjagt

 

The case for John Tavares

john tavares new york islanders

John Tavares serving as captain of the New York Islanders from 2013-2018. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

The current captain of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Toronto Maple Leafs may not be a retired great yet, but he will be. John Tavares was exposed to hockey through the Minor Oaks Hockey Association, and the rest is history.

Tavares was the motivation behind the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) “exceptional player” clause, allowing him to be the first underage player drafted to an OHL team. The rule was eventually expanded across the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). The Oshawa Generals selected Tavares first overall in the 2005 draft, and he showed he could play with older players immediately. The former St. Thomas Aquinas student was named to the league’s All-Rookie Team and was named the OHL and CHL Rookie of the Year. Tavares picked up in the 2006-07 season where he left off, being named the OHL’s most outstanding player, and was named the CHL player of the year.

Tavares was named to the Canadian World Juniors teams in 2008 and 2009, finishing second in scoring in the latter tournament, one point behind teammate Cody Hodgson. Naturally, when he was draft-eligible, Tavares was selected first overall by the New York Islanders. Such was his impact at the NHL level that he made the team straight out of training camp, finished second in rookie scoring with 54 points, and was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team that season.

After his entry-level contract expired, he signed a massive six-year contract worth $33 million and was named Islanders captain in 2013. Just a year later, he was named to Canada’s 2014 Olympic team, where the team won gold. He was a Hart Trophy finalist in 2015 and was named to the First NHL All-Star Team that year as well. Tavares entered free agency on July 1, 2018, and signed a seven-year, $77 million contract with the Leafs. This past season, he produced his best season yet, scoring 47 goals and 88 points, both career highs. Throw in six All-Star Game appearances, and you have quite the CV for a player who has yet to hit 30 years of age.

Can Tavares command his way to become the greatest Oakville athlete?

 

The case for Mike Vanderjagt

After graduating from West Virginia University in 1993, Mike Vanderjagt bounced around various teams in the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the Arena Football League. He finally settled at the Toronto Argonauts for two seasons in 1996 and 1997, serving as the team’s regular placekicker and punter. The Argos won the Grey Cup on both occasions, with the former White Oaks student being named the Grey Cup’s Most Valuable Canadian.

After leading the CFL in yardage per punt in 1997, he joined the National Football League’s (NFL) Indianapolis Colts in 1998. Vanderjagt was the team’s placekicker until the 2005 season, leading the league in scoring in 1999, and kicking 100% from the tee in the 2003 season and playoffs. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2003 after his perfect season and was also named NFL First-Team All Pro that season.

A free agent prior to the 2006 season, he signed a three-year, $4.5 million contract with the Dallas Cowboys, but left the team after just one season. Returning to the Argos for one more time in 2008, he was the team’s field goal kicker, kicking 76.5% of his field goal attempts, the longest from 50 yards. He has had controversial on-field and off-field moments, but when he was on top of his game, he was unstoppable.

Can Vanderjagt kick his way to become the greatest Oakville athlete?

 

MATCH 4 – Adam van Koeverden vs. Djustice Sears-Duru

 

The case for Adam van Koeverden

adam van koeverden silver medal

Adam van Koeverden displaying his silver medal in the K-1 500m from the 2008 Olympics. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Arguably Canada’s most famous kayaker, Adam van Koeverden’s first success at the senior level came in 2003, when he won silver in the K-1 1000m at the 2003 World Championships. He became a global superstar in 2004, with the former Loyola student winning two medals in the Olympics; gold in the K-1 500m and bronze in the K-1 1000m. He was Canada’s flag bearer at the closing ceremony and won the Lou Marsh Trophy that year.

van Koeverden won three bronze medals (two in the K-1 500m & one in the K-1 1000m), two more silvers in the K-1 1000m at the World Championships, and two gold medals, winning the 2007 K-1 500m and the 2011 K-1 1000m. He won two more silver medals at the Olympics; the 2008 K-1 500m and the 2012 K-1 1000m.

To celebrate his successes, van Koeverden was honoured with a ceremonial street name unveiling. Adam van Koeverden, currently known as Water Street, was unveiled on October 17, 2008. Currently, van Koeverden is the Liberal MP in the riding of Milton, defeating incumbent Conservative Party deputy Lisa Raitt.

Can van Koeverden push his way to become the greatest Oakville athlete?

 

The case for Djustice Sears-Duru

djustice sears duru rugby world cup 2015

Djustice Sears-Duru playing for Canada against Ireland at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Djustice Sears-Duru started playing rugby at the age of 11 for the Oakville Crusaders, and hasn’t looked back since. The loosehead prop spent a season at English Premiership’s Leicester Tigers’ Academy and the North Otago Rugby Club in Oamaru, New Zealand.

He earned his full international debut at just 19 years of age, becoming the third-youngest Canadian to do so. After appearing in all four matches for Canada at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the former Abbey Park student turned professional, playing for the Glasgow Warriors in the Pro14 for two seasons and the Ealing Trailfinders in the RFU Championship for the 2017-18 season. He joined the Toronto Arrows in Major League Rugby later that season, before moving to the Seattle Seawolves the next year.

At just 26 years of age, Djustice Sears-Duru has already earned 50 appearances for the Canadian rugby team. His smart decision-making and physicality could permit him to become Canada’s most-capped player in the future.

Can Sears-Duru power his way to become the greatest Oakville athlete?

 

Click here to cast your votes. You can also head to the OakvilleNews.Org Twitter page and cast your votes there.

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