Weekend Roundup: Men’s artistic gymnastics team headed to Paris, men’s volleyball unbeaten to open Olympic qualifier
Team Canada shined on the world stage this weekend. The big headline moment came from the men’s artistic gymnastics team, who secured Olympic qualification for a full squad for the first time since 2008.
But that wasn’t the only impressive result. Team Canada came out of the weekend with a perfect 2-0 record to kick off their Olympic Qualifying Tournament in men’s volleyball. And with fall upon us, there was action on the ice as the Canadian Short Track Championships saw some of the best in the world skate for their spots on the World Cup team this season.
Here’s what you may have missed:
Artistic Gymnastics: Men’s team clinches long awaited Olympic qualification
At Paris 2024, Canada will have a full men’s artistic gymnastics team at the Olympic Games for the first time in 16 years.
The team of Zachary Clay, René Cournoyer, Félix Dolci, William Émard, and Jayson Rampersad combined to finish fourth in the qualification round at the 2023 FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium on Sunday. In addition to being among the nine teams that earned Olympic qualification (joining last year’s medallists Japan, China, and Great Britain), they also advanced to Tuesday’s team event final at the worlds, reserved for the top eight squads.
Canada accrued 249.260 points across the six apparatuses to place only behind Japan, the United States, and Great Britain. In qualifying, each team puts up four gymnasts on each apparatus with the top three scores per apparatus counting.
Veteran Cournoyer, who was Canada’s lone male artistic gymnast at Tokyo 2020, was the team leader. He competed on all six apparatus and advanced to the individual all-around final on Thursday after finishing 17th in qualifying. Dolci was also a standout, earning scores of more than 14 points on four of his five apparatus. That includes the floor exercise, in which he ranked fifth, and the horizontal bar, in which he was eighth. He advanced to next weekend’s eight-man apparatus finals in both.
Volleyball: Canadian men open Olympic qualification campaign perfectly
The men’s volleyball team opened their Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Xi’an China most impressively, with back-to-back victories against the Netherlands and Argentina.
Canada, ranked 14th in the world, kicked it off with a five-set thriller against No. 10-ranked Netherlands. Canada won the first set 25-21 before allowing the Dutch to respond and go up 2-1 after taking the second set 25-23 and the third set 26-24. But the Canadians regained the momentum, grabbing the fourth set 25-18 before taking the decider 15-12.
They earned an even bigger upset in the second match, a confident four-set win over world No. 6 Argentina. That one saw Canada go up 2-0 (27-25, 25-22) before Argentina took the third set 25-23. The Canadians closed out the reigning Olympic bronze medallists 25-15.
Canada was led by the same trio, with Maar and Szwarc both scoring 16 points while Loeppky added 15, including two blocks and two aces.
Next up in Pool C, Canada will face world No. 1 Poland early on Tuesday morning. Later this week they’ll play China, Bulgaria, Belgium, and Mexico — all of which are ranked below Canada. The top two teams in each of the three qualification tournaments being held concurrently will qualify for Paris 2024.
Beach Volleyball: Humana-Paredes & Wilkerson quarterfinalists at Paris Elite16
Melissa Humana-Paredes and Brandie Wilkerson made it to the quarterfinals of yet another Beach Pro Tour Elite 16 tournament, this time in Paris, France. In the first year of their partnership, they have not missed the top eight in any of their Elite 16 appearances.
The third-seeded Canadians fell to the world’s top-ranked duo, Eduarda Santos Lisboa (Duda) and Ana Patricia Ramos of Brazil, in straight sets (21-10, 21-19) in Saturday’s quarterfinals. Humana-Paredes and Wilkerson had won a Round of 12 match earlier in the day against Germany’s Svenja Müller and Cinja Tillmann of Germany (21-14, 19-21, 15-11). They had finished the group stage with a 1-2 record.
Next up will be the Beach Volleyball World Championships, which begin on Friday in Tlaxcala, Mexico. Along with Humana-Paredes and Wilkerson, Canada will be represented in the women’s tournament by Sarah Pavan and Molly McBain. Sam Schachter and Dan Dearing are in the men’s tournament.
Short Track Speed Skating: Sarault and Dandjinou crowned Canadian champs
The short track speed skating season got underway with the Canadian Championships held in Montreal. Courtney Sarault and William Dandjinou each won their first national titles in the women’s and men’s divisions, respectively.
Sarault dethroned three-time defending champion Kim Boutin after winning five medals, including three gold, for a total of 19,000 points. Boutin was just behind her with 18,000 points while Florence Brunelle rounded out the podium with 13,960.
Sarault topped the podium in both 1000m races of the weekend. She was also victorious in the first 500m race on Friday. Boutin was the victor in the two 1500m races. Brunelle was the only other women’s gold medallist, winning the second 500m race.
“It feels amazing to win the overall title.” said Sarault. “Coming into the competition, I knew I wanted to be battling for the title, but I wasn’t sure if my legs would hold up. I have been working hard this summer and felt my legs were pretty loaded from training, so I’m really proud of myself for pulling this off. I had a bit of an extra boost on the last day. I got out of my head and stopped worrying about everything, and it paid off. The 500m didn’t go as planned in the morning but I used that as fuel and tried to end things on a good note in the 1000m, which I managed to do.”
Dandjinou was on the podium in five individual races, which included gold medals in the two 1500m events as well as the second 1000m race. Dubois was the winner of the first 1000m and the second 500m. He also grabbed silver behind Dandjinou in both 1500m races and the second 1000m. The only other man to win an individual race was Jordan Pierre-Gilles who was victorious in the first 500m.
“It’s really big! I don’t have the words right now – I just want to live in the moment,” said Dandjinou. “I had good preparation and it paid off. There were several moments at the start of the competition where I just wanted to get as many points as possible. After my first two victories, I saw that it was possible to go for the Canadian title. This last day, I saw it as all or nothing. I had already qualified for the World Cups and had the chance to win it all, and I went for it.”
Montreal will host the first two ISU World Cup stops of the season from October 20 to 22 and October 27 to 29.