2019 year in review collage

Team Canada’s most memorable moments and incredible stories of 2019

2019 was a spectacular year for Canada with so many historical and record-breaking moments.

Let’s dive right in and relive the most memorable stories in Canadian sport of the past calendar year.

World Aquatics Championships go swimmingly for Canada

Canadian swimmers had their best World Aquatic Championships ever in 2019, capturing eight medals in the pool, including two gold medals, all by women.

Superstar Kylie Masse was one of six triple medallists for Canada, earning her second consecutive world title in the 100m backstroke, plus bronze medals in the 200m backstroke and 4x100m medley relay. Masse now has five career medals at the worlds, tying her with Penny Oleksiak for the most ever won by a female Canadian swimmer.

READ: Kylie Masse wins second straight 100m backstroke title at the FINA Worlds

READ: Kylie Masse wins 200m backstroke bronze at FINA Worlds

Kylie Masse dives into the water

Canada’s Kylie Masse starts in her women’s 100m backstroke semifinal at the World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, Monday, July 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Maggie MacNeil won Canada’s second gold in the 100m butterfly, adding a couple of bronze medals in the 4x100m freestyle and the 4x100m medley relays.

READ: Maggie MacNeil wins 100m butterfly title at FINA Worlds

Canada’s other triple-podium finishers included relay stalwarts Oleksiak, Taylor Ruck, and Rebecca Smith, as well as Sydney Pickrem, who earned individual bronzes in the 200m individual medley and 200m breaststroke.

READ: Canada wraps up FINA Worlds with bronze in women’s 4×100 medley

READ: Sydney Pickrem swims to 200m breaststroke bronze

Canada tracks down success at World Athletics Championships and beyond

Andre De Grasse led the way with a silver in the 200m and a bronze in the 100m as Canada earned five medals in Doha, Qatar.

READ: Andre De Grasse wins 200m silver at IAAF Worlds

Andre de Grasse holding silver medal

Andre de Grasse of Canada, silver medalist for the men’s 200 meters, poses during the medal ceremony at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

Three more bronze medals came from Evan Dunfee in the 50km race walk, Damian Warner in the decathlon, and Mohammed Ahmed in the 5000m. Dunfee was Canada’s first ever medallist in the longest athletics event while Ahmed became the first Canadian to ever win a world championship medal in a long distance track event.

READ: Mohammed Ahmed wins 5000m bronze

READ: Damian Warner wins decathlon bronze

READ: Evan Dunfee wins 50km race walk bronze

Months before the world championships, Rachel Cliff made headlines in March by breaking the Canadian record in the women’s marathon. Running in Nagoya, Japan, Cliff set a time of 2:26:56, beating Lanni Marchant’s 2013 record by over a minute.

Bianca’s meteoric rise and Grand Slam title

Bianca Andreescu was undoubtedly the story of the year in Canadian sports.

Her breakout performance came at Indian Wells in March, where she defeated Angelique Kerber en route to her first WTA tour title.

Despite missing several months due to injury, Andreescu bounced back in August to win the Rogers Cup on home soil in Toronto, becoming the first Canadian woman to win the tournament in 50 years.

READ: Bianca Andreescu makes history with Rogers Cup win

Andreescu’s apex came a few weeks later at the US Open as the 19-year-old became the first Canadian to ever win a Grand Slam singles title, besting the legend Serena Williams in the final.

READ: Andreescu is Canada’s first Grand Slam champion with US Open win

Bianca Andreescu, of Canada, kisses the championship trophy

Bianca Andreescu, of Canada, kisses the championship trophy after defeating Serena Williams, of the United States, in the women’s singles final of the U.S. Open tennis championships Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Andreescu rocketed up to fifth in the world after starting the season at No. 152 and was awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canadian Athlete of the Year.

READ: Bianca Andreescu is Canada’s Athlete of the Year

Brooke Henderson breaks the Canadian record

Brooke Henderson had a record-setting year in 2019.

She kicked things off in April with her second consecutive victory at the Lotte Championship in Hawaii, marking her eighth victory on the LPGA Tour. The win tied her with Mike Weir, Sandra Post, and George Knudson for the most tour wins by a Canadian golfer.

READ: Brooke Henderson defends LGPA title at Lotte Championship

Then with her title at the Meijer LPGA Classic in June, Henderson took over the top spot for herself, hoisting a trophy for the ninth time in her professional career. At just 22 years of age, don’t expect her to slow down any time soon.

READ: Henderson’s nine LPGA legendary wins

READ: Brooke Henderson makes Canadian history with ninth victory

Justin Kripps pilots Canada to two medals at bobsleigh world championships

Justin Kripps piloted his two-man sled with brakeman Cameron Stones to a silver medal and then added a bronze in the four-man event with Stones, Ryan Sommer, and Ben Coakwell.

In doing so, Kripps became just the third Canadian pilot to medal in both the two-man and four-man events at the same world championships.

READ: Justin Kripps and Cam Stones claim Silver in Germany

READ: Team Kripps claims bronze at bobsleigh World Championships

Canada actually hit the podium in all three bobsleigh events, as Christine de Bruin and brakeman Kristen Bujnowski slid to bronze in the women’s two-man.

Kingsbury claims eighth straight Crystal Globe and two world titles

To the surprise of absolutely no one, moguls master Mikaël Kingsbury captured his eighth consecutive Crystal Globe title as the overall World Cup champion of freestyle skiing. Kingsbury topped the field in seven of the nine events on the World Cup calendar.

READ: Kingsbury remains on top at moguls World Cup

Mikael Kingsbury races over moguls

Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury competes during the men’s World Cup freestyle moguls event in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

He maintained that dominance at the biennial world championships, capturing gold in both moguls and dual moguls.

READ: Mikael Kingsbury is moguls World Champion

Humana-Paredes and Pavan pair up for historic gold

Canada’s dynamic duo in beach volleyball had a career-year in 2019.

By winning the FIVB World Championships in Hamburg, Germany this past July, Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes not only claimed Canada’s first ever medal in the tournament, but also secured a qualification spot for Tokyo 2020.

READ: Pavan and Humana-Paredes claim beach volleyball world title

Volleyball players kiss their trophy after the big win

Canada’s Melissa Humana-Paredes, left, and Sarah Pavan kiss the trophy after their victory over the U.S. in the gold-medal match at the beach volleyball world championships in Hamburg, Germany, on Saturday. Photo credit: Beach Volleyball Major Series

Their world championship victory was just one of many highlights for the pair this year, who also won a World Tour 5-Star event in Vienna and finished the season ranked first in the world.

READ: Pavan and Humana-Paredes win gold on FIVB World Tour in Vienna

Deguchi and Valois-Fortier jostle for Canada at Judo World Championships

Rising star Christa Deguchi made waves for Canada with a gold medal in the -57 kg class at the judo World Championships in Tokyo. Deguchi defeated world No. 1 Tsukasa Yoshida of Japan to become Canada’s first ever world champion in judo. The victory came on the back of a strong year for Deguchi, which saw her take over top spot in the world ranking.

READ: Christa Deguchi makes history as Canada’s first judo World Champion

On the men’s side, Antoine Valois-Fortier won a bronze in the -81 kg category, his third career medal at the worlds, giving Canada one of their best showings ever.

READ: Antoine Valois-Fortier wins 81 kg bronze at Worlds

Sinclair moves within a goal of international record

Christine Sinclair scored six times in 15 matches for Canada this year to move within one of American Abby Wambach’s record of 184 international goals. Already regarded by most as the best women’s player of all time, the record – which will inevitably come in 2020 – should further cement Sinclair’s legacy.

Christine Sinclair runs with ball

Canada’s Christine Sinclair tries a shoot during the Women’s World Cup Group E soccer match between Canada and New Zealand in Grenoble, France, Saturday, June 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Sinclair’s next opportunity to break the record will come on January 29 against Saint Kitts and Nevis as part of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

If Canada does qualify for Tokyo 2020, Sinclair will once again be in the spotlight as she looks to lead the women’s national team to their third straight Olympic medal – and perhaps their first ever gold.

Teamwork makes the (Olympic) dream work

Canada had five teams qualify for Tokyo 2020 this past year.

No squad provided more drama than the men’s field hockey team. Canada was trailing 5-3 to Ireland after a loss in the first match of the two-game aggregate Olympic qualifier. Down 6-5 on aggregate in the second match, Canada was awarded a penalty stroke with no time left in regulation. Scott Tupper scored to send the match to a sudden death shootout, where Adam Froese converted the game-deciding goal to send Canada to Tokyo. Their appearance at next summer’s Games will mark the team’s first back-to-back Olympic berths since 1984 and 1988.

READ: Field hockey: Team Canada qualifies for Tokyo 2020

Men's field hockey team celebrates qualifying for Tokyo 2020.

Canada’s field hockey team celebrates after defeating Ireland and clinching a berth to Tokyo 2020. Photo credit: @FieldHockeyCan/Instagram

The men’s rugby sevens team will compete in the Olympic tournament for the first time. They cruised through the Rugby Americas North Sevens Tournament with a perfect 6-0 record to book their ticket.

READ: Men’s rugby sevens team win gold at RAN Sevens

The women’s team also qualified by finishing in the top-four across six tournaments in the 2018-19 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series. They’ve got an eye on bettering their bronze medal from Rio 2016.

READ: Women’s rugby sevens team celebrates bronze and Tokyo 2020 qualification

The women’s water polo team secured their spot at Tokyo 2020 with a second-place finish at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima. The berth marks their first Olympic appearance since 2004.

READ: Women’s water polo team qualifies for Tokyo

Softball will make its Olympic return for the first time since 2008 so it’s only fitting that Canada, who has played at every previous installment, qualified for Tokyo. The team ensured their Olympic berth with a top-two finish at the Softball Americas Olympic Qualifier tournament in Surrey this past August.

READ: Canada’s softball team books their ticket to Tokyo

Softball team celebrating

Canada’s Erika Polidori, from left to right, Sara Groenewegen, Larissa Franklin, Danielle Lawrie and Eujenna Caira celebrate after defeating Brazil during playoff action at the Softball Americas Olympic Qualifier tournament in Surrey, B.C., on Sunday September 1, 2019. With the win Canada qualifies for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Ellie Black leads artistic gymnastics team at Lima 2019 and beyond

You may as well call her “Miss Pan Am Games” after yet another dominant showing in Lima.

Highlighted by her historic second straight gold in the individual all-around, Ellie Black captured five medals for the second consecutive Pan American Games. Her 10 career medals made her Canada’s most decorated gymnast in Pan Ams history and she was named Canada’s flag bearer at the Closing Ceremony in honour of her achievements.

READ: Ellie Black becomes Canada’s most decorated Pan Am Games gymnast

READ: Ellie Black to be Team Canada’s Closing Ceremony flag bearer at Lima 2019

Gymnast swings on the uneven bars

LIMA, Peru – Ellie Black of Team Canada competes in uneven bars during artistic gymnastics at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games on July 30, 2019. Photo by Vincent Ethier

With a team silver as well as a floor exercise gold for Brooklyn Moors and vault bronze for Shallon Olsen, the team carried momentum into the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. They earned a fifth-place finish and a qualification spot at Tokyo 2020, where they’ll look to earn their first-ever Olympic medal.

READ: Artistic gymnastics qualifies for Tokyo 2020

Canada’s tennis takeover continues at Davis Cup Finals

Bianca Andreescu’s historic win at the US Open certainly sent shockwaves through the tennis world, showing everyone that Canada was on the upswing. That message was echoed loud and clear at the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid this November.

Led by rising star Denis Shapovalov and resilient veteran Vasek Pospisil, Canada claimed several upset victories, leading to victories over Italy, the United States, Australia and Russia, on their way to their first ever finals appearance at the Davis Cup. It was only top-ranked Spain, headlined by world No. 1 Rafael Nadal, that could end the Canadians’ miracle run.

READ: Shapovalov and Pospisil advance to Davis Cup Final

Denis (left) and Vasek run towards Frank (centre) after winning their semis match.

Canada’s Vasek Pospisil, right, and Denis Shapovalov celebrate after winning against Australia’s John Peers and Jordan Thompson during their Davis Cup double tennis match in Madrid, Spain, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

The incredible performance demonstrated again to both our nation and the world that Canadian tennis is in good hands. 20-year-old Shapovalov displayed incredible poise and skill, ending his season ranked 15th in the world. Meanwhile 19-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime, who missed most of the tournament with an ankle injury, is the only teenager ranked in the top-50 at No. 21.

New long distance queens of the long track

Team Canada - Ivanie Blondin, Isabelle Weidemann, Valerie Maltais and Béatrice Lamarche - capture gold in the team pursuit on Sunday December 8th in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. (Photo from Speed Skating Canada Twitter)

Team Canada – Ivanie Blondin, Isabelle Weidemann, Valerie Maltais and Béatrice Lamarche – capture gold in the team pursuit on Sunday December 8th in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. (Photo from Speed Skating Canada Twitter)

Building off an impressive 2018 campaign which included her first Olympic appearance, long track speed skater Isabelle Weidemann cemented herself among the world’s elite in 2019.

At the Canadian Championships in October, she timed 6:47.34 in the 5000m to break the previous national record held since 2006 by the legendary Cindy Klassen. She followed up with a World Cup gold in the 3000m.

READ: Weidemann and Blondin earn double podium finish in Minsk

Teammate Ivanie Blondin has looked unstoppable this fall, recording five individual victories, including two mass starts and one each in the 1500m, 3000m, and 5000m.

READ: Blondin captures her first gold of World Cup season

READ: Blondin captures two more golds at World Cup in Nur-Sultan

READ: Blondin achieves fifth consecutive gold medal at the ISU Speed Skating World Cup

Canada conquers world championships

Canadian athletes were all over the world – and the podium – in 2019.

Winnipeg native Skylar Park announced herself on the global stage this past May at the World Taekwondo Championships, winning bronze in the women’s 57kg weight class. Undefeated through her first three rounds, Park was bested only by world No. 1 Jade Jones of Great Britain. That result would play a big part in her earning Olympic qualification.

READ: Skylar Park wins bronze medal at World Taekwondo Championships

The 20-year-old later added a silver medal at Pan Am Games in the 57kg class.

READ: Skylar Park earns taekwondo silver at Pan Am Games

The diving duo of Jennifer Abel and Melissa Citrini-Beaulieu took home a silver medal at the World Aquatics Championships in South Korea. With the performance they also locked in their spot for Tokyo 2020 in the women’s 3m synchro event.

READ: Abel and Citrini-Beaulieu win World Championship silver and Tokyo 2020 qualification

Citrini-Beaulieu and Abel diving

Jennifer Abel and Melissa Citrini Beaulieu of Canada compete during the women’s 3m synchro springboard final competitions at the World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, Monday, July 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Two-time Olympic gold medallist Rosie MacLennan earned a bronze in women’s trampoline, which also secured an Olympic qualification spot for Canada.

READ: Rosie MacLennan captures bronze to end World Championships

Canada had an extremely fruitful World Rowing Championships, earning Olympic spots for six boats. Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens provided the highlight of the week with a bronze in the women’s pair. Also booking Olympic berths were the women’s double sculls, women’s single sculls, men’s pair, women’s four, and the women’s eight.

READ: Canadian rowers qualify six spots for Tokyo 2020

Unbeaten by illness: Eric Lamaze and Max Parrot

Two of the greatest stories of resilience this year came from show jumper Eric Lamaze and snowboarder Max Parrot, who overcame their respective illnesses to return to the podiums for Canada.

Three-time Olympic medallist Lamaze had kept quiet about his battle with a brain tumour for a year and a half before revealing the diagnosis in May. While undergoing treatment, he won back-to-back Grand Prix events at Spruce Meadows in June and posted more victories in September. Lamaze is the all-time money winner at Spruce Meadows with more than $6 million in total earnings.

READ: Eric Lamaze earns heroic victory at Spruce Meadows

Eric Lamaze at Spruce Meadows

Canada’s Eric Lamaze riding Coco Bongo during the BMO Nation’s Cup team competition at the Spruce Meadows Masters in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Just eight months after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the end of 2018, Parrot made his return to the slopes at the X Games in Norway. The 2018 Olympic silver medallist won gold in the men’s big air event for his sixth title as X Games champion.

READ: Max Parrot returns to win sixth X Games title

Bittersweet goodbyes

There were a handful of notable retirements in 2019, starting with the legendary ice dance duo of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. With five Olympic medals, three world titles, and eight national titles, Virtue and Moir retired this past September as the most decorated figure skaters of all time. Virtue remains involved with the Olympic movement through the Team Canada Champion Chats program for the 2019-20 school year.

READ: Olympian Tessa Virtue and Paralympian Benoît Huot to host 2019-2020 Team Canada Champion Chats

Ice dance gold medallists Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skate with the Canadian flag

Ice dance gold medallists Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skate with the Canadian flag during victory ceremonies at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Tuesday, February 20, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Cross-country skier Alex Harvey celebrated his retirement by going out with a bang. In the last weekend of his competitive career, Harvey claimed a silver medal in the 15km pursuit at the World Cup Finals in his home province of Quebec. The three-time Olympian won five world championship medals, including two golds, and made 32 World Cup podiums in his career.

READ: Alex Harvey wins silver in the last race weekend of his career

Alex Harvey celebrating

Alex Harvey of St-Ferreol-les-Neige Que. gets emotional as he steps on the podium after finishing second in the men’s 15 km mass start classic, Saturday, March 23, 2019 at the COOP FIS cross country World Cup in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Sticking with the slopes, ski cross racer Kelsey Serwa announced her retirement in 2019. The 29-year-old won an Olympic gold at PyeongChang 2018, a silver at Sochi 2014, a world title, and two X Games titles.

2019 was a turnover year for short track speed skating with multiple goodbyes.

Off-ice couple Samuel Girard and Kasandra Bradette announced their retirements in March. Girard earned two medals – including Canada’s first ever 1000m gold – in his Olympic debut at PyeongChang 2018 at the age of 22. Bradette also made her Olympic debut in 2018 after having been a World Cup medallist.

Also hanging up the skates this summer were two-time Olympic medallist Charle Cournoyer, who won bronze in the 500m at Sochi 2014 and 5000m relay in PyeongChang, and 2018 Olympian Jamie Macdonald.