Sometimes a bronze medal can be just as good as gold.
After overcoming the disappointment of falling short in the semifinals in women’s soccer, Canada came out on Friday and—in front of a raucous crowd at Arena Corinthians—earned a 2-1 win over the hosts to win bronze.
“It was pretty surreal, just the whole experience,” said head coach John Herdman. “The crowd were fantastic, the place was vibrating.”
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Four years after winning an unexpected bronze at London 2012, the team was intent on topping the podium in Rio. Though it wasn’t to be, Herdman said his team was determined to win back-to-back medals, something no Canadian team has done in a traditional summer sport since 1904/1908 with lacrosse.
The win was especially satisfying for team captain Christine Sinclair, who scored Canada’s second goal against Brazil, the 165th goal of her international career.
“It’s been four years of hard work, four years of dedication,” she said. “We set a goal to achieve back-to-back podiums and we weren’t going to settle for anything less than that.”
It was the capper of an emotional period for Sinclair, whose father passed away earlier this year.
“It’s been a hard year for me,” she said. “I’ve put everything into this, sacrificing things, and I was not going to leave this tournament without a medal around my neck.”
Sinclair was making her 250th appearance for Canada, the first player to ever reach that plateau. But she was clear that she wouldn’t have reached the Olympic podium without plenty of help.
“I could not have done it without every single member of this team,” she said. “(I’m) just super proud of not only our team but every member of the staff.”
The 33-year-old wasn’t the only one to hit a milestone on the day. Deanne Rose, who scored Canada’s first goal of the game, became the youngest player (17 years, 170 days) to score in the Olympic Games.
She’s part of a group of young players who will carry Canada’s gold-medal dreams forward into Tokyo 2020.
“I really think Canada is just starting as a country in terms of what we can achieve,” said Herdman. “We’re building the system, and it’s going to get better and stronger.”