How Olympic Bobsledder Cynthia Appiah’s Enjoys Toronto

There are two things our city is never short of: fascinating people and interesting experiences. In this series, the Star asks the locals you know (and the locals you should know) about their Toronto.

Toronto-based bobsleigher Cynthia Appiah only spends about half of the year in her hometown. That’s her time to see her family, enjoy the city, work out on the track and at the gym, and do charity work.

“This year I took a step back so I could catch my breath. I felt like I was really a go-go-go for the past seven years, trying to get to these Olympics,” Appiah says of the Beijing Games in February and her volunteer work with the Home Run Scholars Program from the Blue Jays Care Foundation, an after-school mentorship program.

The hard training paid off: In Beijing, Appiah finished eighth in both the two-woman bobsleigh and monobob debut. (She has also collected a slew of medals from international red events dating back to 2015.)

For the 2022-23 winter season, she will be working with a new brake woman who will likely need a full season to get up to speed – literally – so she’s excited to be competing in both events. “I’m sure my monobob will do well. And if my two-wife has to stay in the background a bit and we have to work our way up, I’m okay with that.”

Appiah is particularly excited that the team will not just travel in a bubble in Europe, but will compete again in North America. “So we can really get friends and family to come and watch, which is so good. North American songs are our best songs. We are doing the best here, so that gives us an advantage this season.”

She is now in Calgary at the Ice House which will be followed by time at the Whistler Sliding Center for more training and then the competition season where she will be living out of a suitcase.

But when she is at home, between training for her physical sports and also for her mental one, she is a great danger! fan who regularly bumps into her trivia and competes in the online LearnedLeague – Appiah hangs out with friends or her two younger sisters, who are her roommates. They live in the northwest of the city and are all about good food and urban nature.

Toronto-based bobsleigher Cynthia Appiah is shown during practice at the LPS Athletic Centre.  She shares some of her favorite places to kick back and relax in the city.

Where do you prefer to go in your area?

I live with my sisters not far from where I grew up. When it’s nice and cool on a summer evening, we walk to Weston Lions Park. At the beginning of the pandemic, when everything came to a standstill, we athletes still needed a place to train. So I started using that park. There is a large green open space near the football field and I would do my spring exercises there. I pretended it was a sprint track.

Good food nearby?

There are a few coffee shops that have recently opened in this area. There is Black Cat Espresso Bar which has a nice patio and they make good sandwiches for breakfast. It’s not the healthiest, but it’s a treat every now and then. We also like El Almacen Yerba Mate Café. You wouldn’t think coffee and empanadas go together, but they really do. They make them fresh every day and if you get there when they open you will find the freshest batches.

I like the Somali restaurant Xawaash. If there’s one thing I’m going to promote in this city, it’s Somali food. I feel like sleeping on it, but it’s one of the tastiest, well-seasoned food I’ve ever had. Think shawarma, but if 10 times better, that’s Somali food. There is a Bahamian restaurant called Old Nassau. I usually get the conch dinner. My sisters love a new homemade pasta place called Pastable – ordered from them.

Are there any good places outside your neighborhood that you like to go to?

I like Marie Curtis Park on the waterfront. It’s just a nice open space to chill out. I’ve had a few family picnics there. There is another park I haven’t been to in years called Rowntree Mills Park in North York. The church my family attends, St. Andrew’s Catholic Church, always has its annual picnic in that park. I haven’t been in years because it’s always in August and then I’m in Calgary. But I have so many memories of that park. There is always a huge barbecue and my uncles argued about who seasoned the meat best. And there were races. It’s nice to see your parents lose; you are so ashamed. Myself always came second, there was a girl who was going to get me at the end. It was so demoralizing.

Is there any Toronto food you really miss when you’re gone?

I am a huge, huge bubble tea fan. I haven’t had one in the past few weeks because I had to stick to my diet. But usually it’s a treat of three times a week. It’s so addictive. It’s so sweet, but I love it. So when I’m in upstate North York and visit my chiropractor, there’s a place called Xing Fu Tang. That’s your high-quality stuff. When I’m in Vaughan there’s a place called TP Tea. If I’m not willing to pay $7, I’ll go for some bubble tea at a chain like Chatime or Gong Cha.

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