Monday, 25th February 2019
By Chris Welner
If you think you’re seeing double at the Canada Winter Games, don’t worry, it’s just twins. In fact, eight sets of twins are competing at Red Deer 2019.
They can be seen in action at venues all across the city, whether you are watching ringette, gymnastics, wheelchair basketball, short track speed skating or badminton.
The New Brunswick boys’ gymnastics team has two sets of identical twins. So does Nova Scotia’s wheelchair basketball team (plus one set’s older sister).
Saskatchewan has twin sisters in ringette, twin brothers in badminton and twin brothers in wheelchair basketball.
Bryson and Tanner Bolianatz, 18, are on Saskatchewan’s wheelchair basketball team.
“Wheelchair basketball was the first sporting experience where we could play together,” says Bryson, who has cerebral palsy. “We joined up back in Grade 1 — one brother with cerebral palsy, one able-bodied and we’re just out there kickin’ it together. Now we’re having this great experience here at Canada Games.”
The brothers also play sledge hockey and share guitar duties in a rock band.
Kayla and Julie Mackinnon, 15, of Cole Harbour, N.S., and Justin and Jordan Stephens, 20, of Newport, N.S. all play wheelchair basketball. Older sister Vanessa Stephens is also on the team and Kayla, Justin and Jordan all have cerebral palsy.
“It’s great to have Canada Games together as a family,” says Justin. “It’s quite an experience to play with my twin brother and sister at this high level of sport and even have another set of twins on the same team.”
Ainsley and Samantha Spencer, 17, both skate short-track for B.C. They’ve been known to play tricks on their coach, trying to blame the other sister when criticism comes in practice. On the track there’s comfort and competition. “We’re usually around the same times so there’s always a competition between us to see who’s faster,” says Ainsley.
Badminton brothers Chaitanya and Prasanna Sohani, 21, of Saskatoon say they have fun pairing up for competition and push each other to be their best.
“For the last five years we’ve been playing doubles together and since we’re twins we really don’t have to tell each other what to do,” says Prasana. “ I just think it and he already knows.”
Saskatchewan ringette players Keala and Maya Fleury, 16, say there’s an innate advantage to being identical twins. “We are able to read each other so well on the ice,” says Keala, and in twin fashion, Maya finishes the thought: “We have a connection and no other kind of bond can compare to that. We do everything together. It’s like having your best friend by your side all the time.”
The double-take of all double-takes has to come in gymnastics, where the New Brunswick boys team fields two sets of identical twins, both from St. John. Benjamin and Patrick Talbot, 15 and Antoine and Thomas Gautreau, 17 started gymnastics just a few months apart almost seven years ago at the same club and have been progressing up the ladder ever since.
“Instead of being just one set of twins and being the odd man out, together we have a similarity so we’re not the only ones who are different,” says Patrick.
Antoine Gautreau says its definitely unique to have a twin brother on the team and further yet another set of twins, all of whom are good friends. “I think we’re normal people, we’re just really close,” he says. And for those who don’t have a genetically identical sibling? “You’re missing out,” he says.