Swimming Canada/Iam MacNicol, AP Photo/Kin Cheung, AP Photo, Bernat Armangue, GEPA Pictures/Matic Klansek
Swimming Canada/Iam MacNicol, AP Photo/Kin Cheung, AP Photo, Bernat Armangue, GEPA Pictures/Matic Klansek

The women of Team Canada wow all year round

It seems like not a week goes by without the women of Team Canada tearing up the slopes, making waves in the pool, making a charge on the court, and – most of all – climbing onto the podium. 

International Women’s Day is really just one more opportunity to celebrate that greatness within Team Canada. 

Here is just a smattering of the countless incredible achievements by Canadian women athletes over the last 12 months:

Summer McIntosh 

Just a few weeks after last year’s International Women’s Day, Summer McIntosh did something no swimmer had done before: hold the long course world records in the 400m freestyle and the 400m IM at the same time. She had broken both marks at the 2023 Canadian Swimming Trials, making the entire sports world sit up and take notice of the then-16-year-old. 

Summer McIntosh smiles on the pool desk after winning a race
Canada’s Summer McIntosh reacts after winning the women’s 200m butterfly final at the World Swimming Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, Thursday, July 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Though her 400m freestyle record would be erased at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships, McIntosh did successfully defend the two world titles – 200m butterfly and 400m IM – she had first laid claim to in 2022. Her four career gold medals are the most that any Canadian swimmer has won in the history of the long course world championships. 

With each stroke McIntosh takes, the anticipation only grows for what she might achieve in the pool in Paris this summer. 

Maggie Mac Neil 

While McIntosh’s exploits were deservedly given many headlines, Maggie Mac Neil has made her own history in the swimming pool. 

Maggie Mac Neil poses with seven medals around her neck
Maggie Mac Neil of Canada poses for a photo with her seven medals during the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games on Wednesday, October 25, 2023. Photo by Andrew Lahodynskyj/COC

At Santiago 2023, she won five gold medals, the most ever by a Canadian athlete at one edition of the Pan Am Games. She and teammate Mary-Sophie Harvey each won seven medals, the most ever by a Canadian female athlete at a single Pan Am Games. 

After putting her mental health first in 2022 and opting out of individual events at the World Aquatics Championships, Mac Neil returned to the podium in 2023 in her speciality, the 100m butterfly. It is among her eight career world championship medals, putting her up there with Canada’s most successful swimmers ever. 

READ: Magnificent Maggie Mac Neil makes Canadian history at the Pan Am Games

Caeli McKay and Pamela Ware 

The Canadian diving team had two great comeback stories last summer that showcased the value of resilience. 

After completely missing her final dive in the Olympic semifinal in 2021, Pamela Ware took some much-needed time away from the springboard to focus on the mental side of her sport. She returned to major competition in 2023 and won bronze in the 3m event at the World Aquatics Championships. It had been a decade since she had last stood on the world championship podium. It was an incredible display of fortitude. Ware went on to win two gold medals at the Pan Am Games in Santiago.   

  • Pamela Ware performs an inverted twist mid air in front of a blue and yellow backdrop
  • Caeli McKay dives off the 10m platform in layout position

Caeli McKay won her own bronze medal in the 10m platform at the 2023 Worlds. It was her first world championship medal and came just months after she underwent surgery on her ankle to fully repair an injury she had fought to compete through to make her Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020. 

Christa Deguchi and Jessica Klimkait 

If you look at the world judo rankings for the women’s 57kg class, you’ll see two Canadian names right at the top: Christa Deguchi and Jessica Klimkait. They’ve been in those positions for quite a while now, thanks to their impressive performances on the world stage. 

  • Jessica Klimkait of Canada, top, and Hasret Bozkurt of Turkey compete during their women's -57 kilogram bronze medal judo match at the World Judo Championships in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, May 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Hussein Sayed)
  • Christa Deguchi smile on the podium with the gold medal.

The big highlight of 2023 was Deguchi laying claim to her second career world title. She shared the podium with Klimkait, who earned her second straight bronze medal at the IJF World Championships. 

Since then, they’ve continued to battle each other for dominance, facing off in all-Canadian finals in several top tier Grand Slam competitions. The only unfortunate thing about their excellence is that just one of them will get to compete at Paris 2024, which will make the next few months before the Olympic qualification window closes incredibly intriguing. 

Camryn Rogers and Sarah Mitton 

If Canada is becoming known as a throws nation in the athletics worlds, a great deal of credit has to be given to Camryn Rogers and Sarah Mitton

After taking hammer throw silver at the 2022 World Athletics Championships, Rogers moved herself up a step on the podium in 2023, earning the title of world champion. That followed a national record throw of 78.62m in May that made her the fifth-ranked women’s hammer thrower of all time. 

Mitton, meanwhile, had just missed the world championship podium in 2022 on a heart-breaking tiebreaker. She wasn’t about to let that happen again in 2023. With her best throw of the season, she earned silver for Canada’s first ever medal in women’s shot put at the World Athletics Championships in August. Mitton then went on to secure the top spot at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in March, besting her own Canadian record twice along the way.

READ: Shot putter Sarah Mitton on her Olympic goals and inspiring the next generation

Katie Vincent 

At Tokyo 2020, Katie Vincent was part of history as she not only competed in, but won a medal in the first Olympic canoe events for women. Following the retirement of her racing partner, Laurence Vincent Lapointe, Vincent became the experienced veteran of the Canadian women’s canoe team. She has stepped confidently into the leadership role, taking some lessons learned from Vincent Lapointe as she forged a new partnership with Sloan MacKenzie

Katie Vincent paddles a canoe in a sprint race
Katie Vincent competes at the 2023 ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup in Szeged, Hungary on May 11, 2023 (Bence Vekassy/ICF/CanoeKayak Canada)

At the 2023 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships, in just their second year together, they won C-2 500m bronze and qualified the boat for Canada for Paris 2024. It is all part of their patient three-year plan to become the best and win on Olympic water this summer.  

3×3 Basketball Team 

You may have heard this before, but Canada can boast having the top women’s 3×3 basketball team in the world. 

Pictured is Michelle Plouffe, Katherine Plouffe, Paige Crozon and Kacie Bosch after winning the FIBA 3X3 Women's Series Title on September 17, 2023.
Pictured is Michelle Plouffe, Katherine Plouffe, Paige Crozon and Kacie Bosch after winning the FIBA 3X3 Women’s Series Title on September 17, 2023. (Photo by: FIBA 3×3)

Just as they did in 2022, the quartet of Katherine Plouffe, Michelle Plouffe, Paige Crozon, and Kacie Bosch won the FIBA 3×3 Women’s Series Final in 2023. Leading up to it, Canada finished first in five individual 3×3 Women’s Series stops. Katherine Plouffe is currently the top-ranked women’s 3×3 player in the world while twin sister Michelle took MVP honours at the 2023 Final. 

The big goal for 2024 is to get to the Olympic Games and win a gold medal. They’ll look to book their ticket to Paris at a qualification tournament in early May. 

READ: Canadian women’s 3×3 team on basketball, humility and the pathway to Paris 2024 Olympic Games

Billie Jean King Cup Team 

Canada getting to hoist the trophy at the Billie Jean King Cup Finals last November is a testament to the importance of belief in one’s own abilities. After all, what’s predicted on paper isn’t what matters; it’s how you play the game.  

  • Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski, second from right, and Leylah Fernandez, second from left, celebrate with their teammates after defeating Czech Republic's Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova during the semifinal doubles tennis match at the Billie Jean King Cup finals at La Cartuja stadium in Seville, southern Spain, Spain, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
  • Canada's tennis team hold up the Billie Jean King Cup trophy while wearing blue blazers

There was 18-year-old Marina Stakusic winning several key singles matches in her very first Billie Jean King Cup nomination. There was 31-year-old Gaby Dabrowski contributing to a crucial semifinal doubles win after more than a decade of representing Canada when this kind of success was hardly on the radar. There was Leylah Fernandez, a Grand Slam finalist, doing exactly what was expected of her and being rewarded with a confetti shower. 

Everyone had their role to play and they ended up making history by winning Canada’s first women’s team tennis title. 

Hallie Clarke 

One year you’re a U20 world champion; the next you’re the world champion. That’s the story of 19-year-old Hallie Clarke, who recently became the youngest women’s skeleton world champion ever. 

Skeleton athlete Hallie Clarke waves to fans after winning the 2024 IBSF World Championships
Skeleton athlete Hallie Clarke waves to fans after winning the 2024 IBSF World Championships. Credit: IBSF

Surprising even herself when she was in first place through the first two runs, Clarke wasn’t spooked by suddenly being the one everyone was chasing. She sealed the victory with the fastest final run, becoming just the second Canadian woman to ever win skeleton gold at the IBSF World Championships. The last time it had happened? The year before Clarke was born. 

Canadian Ski Cross Team 

Since ski cross joined the Olympic program at Vancouver 2010, the Olympic podium has always included at least one Canadian woman. Two years out from the next Olympic Winter Games, there’s no reason to think it won’t happen again. 

  • Three women ski cross racers stand on a podium
  • Canada's Hannah Schmidt celebrates her victory on the podium following the women's final of a World Cup ski cross event at Nakiska Ski Resort in Kananaskis, Alta., Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024.

After the calendar flipped to 2024, Canadian women won eight straight races on the FIS World Cup circuit before the end of February. And it wasn’t just one athlete. First it was Hannah Schmidt getting two in a row. Then it was Marielle Thompson winning four of five races, with India Sherret getting her first career victory on the one week when Thompson missed out. Then it was Brittany Phelan finally collecting her first win eight years after her World Cup debut. 

In five of those races, the winner wasn’t the lone Canadian on the podium as it became a shared experience between teammates. These athletes constantly push each other and support each other and build off each other’s success. 

Piper Gilles 

Last March, Piper Gilles and ice dance partner Paul Poirier won bronze at the 2023 ISU World Figure Skating Championships. It was a great accomplishment for their first competition in several months, as Gilles had undergone surgery to remove her appendix. 

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, of Canada, perform their ice dance rhythm dance program during the Skate Canada International figure skating competition, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Oct. 27, 2023.
Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, of Canada, perform their ice dance rhythm dance program during the Skate Canada International figure skating competition, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Oct. 27, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

But in May, Gilles bravely went public with the full truth of her health scare: she had been diagnosed with stage one ovarian cancer and the appendix removal was a precautionary measure because of a tumour in her left ovary. Gilles and Poirier, along with their team, did what they needed to protect the duo from any added pressure as they wanted to end the season strong. Their bronze medal felt just like a gold after those tough times. 

In the aftermath of her announcement, Gilles received so much love and support from fans, old and new. She also helped encourage people to talk about what can still be seen as a taboo topic. 

Fay De Fazio Ebert 

Can you imagine being the best at something at 13 years old? That was skateboarder Fay De Fazio Ebert’s experience at Santiago 2023 where she won Pan Am Games gold in the women’s park event. 

Fay De Fazio Ebert poses with her gold medal and the Canadian flag
Fay De Fazio Ebert of Canada wins gold in the women’s skateboard park finals during the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games on Sunday, October 22, 2023. Photo by Thomas Skrlj/COC

Wearing a feather from her beloved pet duck Richard in her helmet, Team Canada’s youngest athlete of the Games produced one of the most memorable moments as she showed skill and style well beyond her years. 

What’s next?

With the Paris 2024 Olympic Games on the horizon, the stage is set for a long list of additions to the next edition of this list. Remember, at Tokyo 2020, 18 of Team Canada’s 24 medals were brought home by women!