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Alumni Western Be Extraordinary The Campaign For Western

Taking on the Americas

by Jason Winders, MES'10

Sasha Gollish
Sasha Gollish in her bronze medal race at the Pan Am Games. (Mundo Sport Images)

Turns out, it wasn’t just another race for Sasha Gollish.

Competing on the final night of the 2015 Pan Am Games, the Western Engineering alumna walked into CIBC Athletics Stadium at York University ready for her 1,500-metre race.

She was on home turf – a Toronto woman taking on the best of the Americas on Canadian soil. Even so, she never expected what happened next. “I was blown away by the noise in the stadium,” she said. “It’s one thing to walk into a stadium and hear cheering; it’s another thing to walk into a stadium and hear a whole stadium cheering for you. I was just trying to tell myself it was ‘just another race, just another race.’ But when you walk in and hear that noise from that many people, you think, ‘Oh my gosh, this isn’t just another race.”

Gollish was one of a pair of Western alumnae who contributed three medals to Canada’s total count of 217 at the Games, a haul behind only the United States and its 265. Gollish, BESc’07, and Alexandra Bruce, BESc’14, were part of the country’s best Pan Am Games showing since it won 196 medals at the 1999 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg. With 78 golds this year, Canada beat its record of 64, also set at the Winnipeg Games.

Gollish took home a bronze in the women’s 1,500-metre race – despite nearly shedding off her left shoe 150 metres into the race.

As the racers bunched in the first turn, the pace slowed and a runner behind her stepped down the back of her leg and into her shoe. “I had a decision to make: I could drop out, and everyone would understand, or I could fight,” Gollish said of her internal dialogue during the race. “If I chose to fight, I had to ignore the fact my shoe was falling off and just race. If I focused on my shoe, I wouldn’t have been in the race. So, I decided to fight.”

Bruce, a former member of the Western Mustangs badminton team, won two medals – a silver in mixed doubles badminton and a bronze in women’s doubles badminton.

Alexandra Bruce, BESc’14

A Civil Engineering alumna, Bruce played two years at Western before taking a break from her studies to pursue badminton at the international level. She was an OUA All-Star in her two seasons of competition from 2008-10, as well as the 2008-09 OUA Women’s Badminton Rookie of the Year.


This article appeared in the Fall 2015 edition of Alumni Gazette
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