In a year that for many people might have felt like a decade, you can be forgiven for perhaps forgetting some of the incredible accomplishments achieved by Team Canada athletes in 2020.
Even though there were several months this spring and summer in which no competitions took place, there were still many times that Team Canada athletes showed their amazing talent and determination.
So, let’s remind you of some of the best pure sports stories for Team Canada in 2020.
Christine Sinclair, #185
It was January 29 when Christine Sinclair became the all-time leader in international soccer goals (for men and women), with a two-goal performance against St. Kitts and Nevis in the Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Sinclair’s 184th goal tied Abby Wambach’s record and her 185th made her the highest-scoring international in history.
— Team Canada (@TeamCanada) January 29, 2020
A few days later she added number 186 as Team Canada continued towards booking their ticket for Tokyo 2020. , The Canadian captain has played with the national team since 2000 and with 296 caps to her name is not showing any signs of slowing down.
Skating into the Record Books
Team Canada speed skaters won nine medals at the World Single Distances Championships in February. Leading the list was Graeme Fish, who not only won gold in the 10,000m but also broke the world record in the event, taking the mark from teammate Ted-Jan Bloemen who claimed the silver.
Both men also stood on the 5000m podium as Bloemen won gold and Fish took bronze. Ivanie Blondin reclaimed the title of world champion in the mass start and was part of a bronze medal in the team pursuit. Jordan Belchos and Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu shared the podium in the men’s mass start with their silver and bronze medals. Rounding out the haul was Laurent Dubreuil’s 1000m bronze. Are you excited for Beijing 2022 yet?
Xcellent Performances on Snow
In March, Mark McMorris made history, becoming the most decorated athlete ever at the Winter X Games, after winning the gold medal in the snowboard big air event in Norway. The big air was a Canadian sweep, with Max Parrot winning silver and Darcy Sharpe claiming bronze. Megan Oldham (gold in women’s ski big air), Laurie Blouin (bronze in women’s snowboard big air) and Brooke Voigt (bronze in snowboard slopestyle) also hit the podium at the X Games Norway.
— X Games (@XGames) March 7, 2020
That followed a huge nine-medal tally at the Winter X Games in Aspen in late January by McMorris (silver in men’s big air), Parrot (gold in men’s big air), Sharpe (gold men’s snowboard slopestyle), Blouin (silver in women’s snowboard slopestyle), Cassie Sharpe (bronze in women’s ski superpipe), Evan McEachran (silver men’s ski slopestyle), Brendan MacKay (bronze in men’s ski superpipe) and Rachael Karker (silver in women’s ski superpipe).
More Crystal Globes for the King
The king of moguls, Mikaël Kingsbury, dominated again in early 2020. He never finished below second place in any competition, as he stood atop the podium five times between January and March to go along with two second-place finishes. He wrapped up the season as the number one freestyle skier in the world, winning his ninth consecutive Crystal Globe.
Unfortunately, his 2020-21 season did not get off to the start he wanted, when he fractured two vertebrae in training. But after missing the first few races of his career, Kingsbury expects to be back in the start gate in 2021.
New to the Crystal Globe scene this season was Kevin Drury, who claimed the overall World Cup title in men’s ski cross after he reached the podium in seven of 11 races in 2019-20, including three straight to cap it off in 2020.
— Alpine Canada Alpin (@Alpine_Canada) March 13, 2020
The dynamic duo of Christine de Bruin and Kristen Bujnowski finished third overall in the women’s World Cup standings and won their second straight bronze medal at the World Championships on one of the trickiest tracks in Altenberg, Germany.
Tokyo 2020 Tickets Booked
Despite the postponement of Tokyo 2020 by a year, there was a lot to be excited about for Canadian athletes regarding the next Olympic Games. In January, the men’s volleyball team clinched an Olympic berth at home in Vancouver. In early February, both the women’s soccer and women’s basketball teams locked up their Olympic spots. At the end of the month, Alannah Yip won gold at the Pan American Championships to secure her place in the inaugural Olympic sport climbing event.
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At the ITTF North American Olympic qualification event in March, Mo Zhang and Eugene Wang earned spots for Canada in the mixed doubles and women’s and men’s singles table tennis events. And just before COVID-19 shut everything down, four Olympic wrestling spots were earned by reigning champion Erica Wiebe, along with Danielle Lappage, Jordan Steen and Amarveer Dhesi.
Seventeen track and road cyclists were the first athletes officially nominated to Team Canada for Tokyo 2020. Before and after that announcement was made in July, there was lots to celebrate. In late January, Kelsey Mitchell and Lauriane Genest won team sprint gold at the track cycling World Cup in Milton where Mitchell also claimed an individual sprint silver. In her world championship debut in February, Mitchell finished an impressive fourth in the sprint, matching the result of the women’s team pursuit squad who would also all be nominated to the Olympic team.
On the road, Mike Woods broke his right femur in March but came back later in the year to reach the podium in three stages of the Vuelta a España, highlighted by a masterful first-place finish in the seventh stage, with second-place finishes in the sixth and 14th stages.
🚵♂️ to the 🔝
The Vuelta a España has 21 stages, spread over three weeks.pic.twitter.com/JGP5B80sJR
— Team Canada (@TeamCanada) October 27, 2020
Intense Fight for Olympic Judo Spot
It will be one of the most-watched battles in 2021: which of Jessica Klimkait and Christa Deguchi will claim the lone Canadian spot available at Tokyo 2020 in the 57kg weight class? They are currently ranked number one and two in the world, with Klimkait switching spots in the order with Deguchi in October following her victory at the Grand Slam in Budapest, her first competition in seven months because of the pandemic.
Back in February, Klimkait also won the Grand Slam in Dusseldorf while Deguchi claimed the top spot at the Grand Slam in Paris. For Judo Canada CEO (and two-time Olympic medallist) Nicolas Gill, having too much talent is not a problem at all!
When the athletics season resumed in August, middle distance runner Marco Arop was ready. Over a span of just 10 days, he won medals in three international 800m races! First up for the 22-year-old was a Diamond League meet in Monaco where he ran a personal best time of 1:44.14 to win bronze. He continued his streak of success by winning two silver medals, one at the World Athletics Continental Tour in Bydgoszcz, Poland and another at the Diamond League in Stockholm, Sweden.
A personal best for Canada's @marco_arop in the men's 800m 🙌
He glides to a third place finish with a time of 1:44.14, just behind Americans Brazier and Hoppel
— CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) August 14, 2020
2020 was a great year for Canadian tennis. Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Leylah Annie Fernandez, just 17, reached the final at the Mexican Open and Félix Auger-Aliassime reached back-to-back finals at the ATP 500 in Rotterdam and the ATP 250 in Marseille.
But the bulk of the success came in the return to play in the summer. Denis Shapovalov made history with his quarterfinals appearance at the US Open, Milos Raonic narrowly lost the final of the Cincinnati Masters to world number one Novak Djokovic, Auger Aliassime captured his first doubles title at the Paris Masters and Vasek Pospisil came roaring back this year with finals appearances at the ATP 250s in Montpellier and Sofia while making headlines for his most Canadian choice of mid-match energy booster.
Has a tennis player ever been endorsed by a Canadian Maple Syrup manufacturer? 🤔
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) February 9, 2020