When the Olympic Games are a family affair: Canadian siblings chasing their Olympic dreams

For many members of Team Canada, the support they receive from their family and friends throughout their journey leading up to and during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games will be part of their fondest Olympic memories.

A few athletes might have a family member (or two) extra close to them–as a fellow member of Team Canada!

Here are some Team Canada sibling sets chasing their Olympic dreams:

Antonia and Georgia Lewin-LaFrance (Sailing)

Not only will sisters Antonia and Georgia Lewin-LaFrance both be competing at Paris 2024, they’ll do so as a team. The sisters, who compete in the 49er FX, qualified for Paris 2024 with a standout performance at the world championships for that boat class in Lanzarote, Spain in early March. During the final days of the regatta, the Lewin-LaFrance team climbed from 16th to 10th overall in the opening series of races before finishing second in the medal race, bumping them to eighth place overall.

The sisters, who began sailing as children in Chester, Nova Scotia, were slightly overwhelmed by the experience, saying afterwards: “We cried after making the medal race, and we cried when we learned we made it to the Olympics. We don’t even have words for it, honestly.”

Paris 2024 will be the first Olympic Games for both Antonia and Georgia Lewin-LaFrance. Team Canada fans will be ready to cheer them on as they set sail from the Marseille Marina this summer.

Lucia Stafford and Gabriela DeBues-Stafford (Athletics)

Tokyo 2020 was Gabriela DeBues-Stafford’s second Olympic Games, but her first at which she shared the track with her younger sister, Lucia Stafford, as they both competed in the 1500m.

Lucia ran a personal best of 4:03.52 in the first round to advance to the semifinal. In the semis, she ran another personal best of 4:02.12, but came just short of joining her older sister in the final.

Gabriela finished in fifth place for Canada’s second-best ever Olympic result in the women’s 1500m.

Gabriela has dealt with injury throughout 2023 and is building back to attempt to qualify for her third Olympic Games. Lucia was crowned Canadian champion in the 1500m in July 2023 and represented Canada at both the outdoor World Athletics Championships in August 2023 and the indoor worlds in February 2024.

As a fun fact, prior to running, both sisters competed in Irish dancing!

Michelle and Katherine Plouffe (3×3 Basketball)

Michelle and Katherine Plouffe are not just Canadian Olympian siblings–they up the ante as Canadian Olympian identical twins.

Michelle made her Olympic debut as a member of the women’s basketball team at London 2012. Katherine flew to London to surprise her sister and watch her play, an experience she says made her realize: “I still have some work to do.”

But work she did and for the Rio 2016 Games both Plouffe sisters were named to the Canadian women’s basketball team.

The Plouffes have their sights set on Paris 2024 in the newer discipline of 3×3 basketball. Having watched the condensed version of the game grow in popularity while they were playing 5×5 overseas, the Plouffes made the decision to come home and lead the charge for Canadian women’s 3×3.

The discipline made its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, but without a Canadian entry as complex qualification criteria made it near impossible for the Plouffe-led team to secure an Olympic spot, despite their quick success. 

But the twins have remained undeterred and continued to string together strong performances, along with teammates Paige Crozon and Kacie Bosch. They won back-to-back FIBA 3×3 Women’s Series Final titles in 2022 and 2023 and are all set to compete at Olympic qualifying tournaments in May. 

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

Léa and Alex Baldoni (Canoe-Kayak Slalom)

Olympic hopefuls Léa and Alex Baldoni both compete in canoe/kayak slalom. Born in France but with dual citizenship, the siblings opted to compete for their mother’s home country of Canada.

Léa and Alex represented Canada at the Santiago 2023 Pan Am Games, where they both won medals on the same day of competition! Alex won silver in the men’s kayak cross and Léa took home a bronze in the women’s K-1. 

Santiago 2023 was the siblings’ first major games experience. In March, Alex moved one step closer to Paris 2024 by winning the men’s C-1 event at the 2024 COPAC Canoe Slalom Pan American Olympic Qualifier, a result which secured a quota spot for Canada in the event.

Skylar, Tae-Ku and Braven Park (Taekwondo)

Taekwondo is truly a family affair for the Parks. That fact was on full display at the Santiago 2023 Pan Am Games, where all three siblings competed to great success, while coached by their father, Jae. Skylar took home the gold medal in the women’s 57kg event, Tae-Ku secured a bronze in the men’s 68kg event, and Braven finished fifth in the men’s 58kg event. 

After they finished competing, the siblings visited a Chilean taekwondo club to give a workshop, as a way of honouring their mother’s Chilean roots.

Skylar is qualified for Paris 2024, which will be her second Olympic Games. She finished ninth at Tokyo 2020. Her younger brother Braven is seeking qualification for his first Olympic Games.

Fun fact–there are 16 black belts within the family!

Ana and Karla Godinez Gonzalez (Wrestling)

Ana and Karla Godinez Gonzalez began wrestling fairly late in life compared to many of their peers in elite sport. The sisters took up the sport in high school after encouragement from their older sister, who was on a path towards MMA fighting.

While the sisters were born in Mexico, their family moved to Canada when they were children to escape dangerous circumstances. Ana describes the decision to compete for Canada as an easy one for her and Karla: “We learned about wrestling in Canada, we train in Canada–it felt right.”

But since they were unable to compete at national championships until their citizenship came through, the sisters burst onto the Canadian wrestling scene in 2019. 

Having a sibling that competes in the same sport was particularly helpful for the sisters during the pandemic. Ana and Karla wrestled with each other to help stay sharp when gyms and training facilities were closed, despite competing in different weight classes.

Ana, who competes in the women’s 62kg event, officially qualified for her first Olympic Games in March at the Pan American Olympic Qualifier in Acapulco, Mexico. Karla will hope to join her sister at Paris 2024 with a strong performance in the women’s 53kg event at the World Qualification Tournament in early May.