Leah Hennel/COC - Carlos Acuña/Santiago2023 vía PHOTOSPORT - AP Photo/Petr David Josek
Leah Hennel/COC - Carlos Acuña/Santiago2023 vía PHOTOSPORT - AP Photo/Petr David Josek

Weekend Roundup: De Grasse wins first outdoor races of season, another Olympic canoe quota claimed

A few stars of Canadian athletics were in action over the weekend and Olympic and world champions are rounding into form as the outdoor season heats up.

Elsewhere, Canada locked up another Olympic quota spot in canoe sprint while several Canadian judokas and BMX racer Molly Simpson achieved results that will be a boost to their world rankings as they keep their sights on Olympic qualification.

Here’s a quick look back at what you might have missed:

Athletics: Mitton returns to Diamond League podium, De Grasse wins outdoor season debut

Sarah Mitton stood on a Diamond League podium for the first time this season, finishing second in women’s shot put at the Shanghai/Suzhou meet on Saturday. The 27-year-old from Brooklyn, Nova Scotia had her first throw of the competition travel 19.86m, which stood up for the silver medal behind the 20.03m hit by American Chase Jackson on her second attempt.

The two women finished with the same placements at last year’s World Athletics Championships before Mitton went on to win gold at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in early March with a season best throw of 20.22m. Mitton finished fourth at last week’s Diamond League opener in Xiamen, China.

Regan Yee was the other Canadian competing in Shanghai. She ran a season best time of 9:26.12 to finish ninth in the women’s 3000m steeplechase. Yee continues to chase the Olympic entry standard time of 9:23.00 so that she doesn’t have to rely on her world ranking to secure qualification for Paris 2024.

Six-time Olympic medallist Andre De Grasse competed in his first outdoor meet of the season at the East Coast Relays in Jacksonville, Florida where he won both the men’s 100m and 200m.

On Friday, the 29-year-old clocked 20.11 to top the field in the 200m. He followed up on Saturday by taking the 100m victory in a photo finish over reigning Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs of Italy. The both stopped the clock in 10.11, 0.03 ahead of American Trayvon Bromwell. While De Grasse has the Olympic entry standard for the 200m, he is still chasing the 10.00 seconds needed for automatic qualification in the 100m.

Also on Saturday, Marco Arop raced at the invitational adizero Road to Records event in Herzogenaurach, Germany. The reigning world champion won the men’s 800m in 1:44.36. Meanwhile, at the Louisiana State University Invitational, Mariam Abdul-Rashid ran a personal best 12.69 seconds in the women’s 100m hurdles to go under the Olympic standard time.

Canoe/Kayak Sprint: Canada qualifies another spot for Paris 2024

Connor Fitzpatrick finished second in the men’s C-1 1000m at the Americas Continental Olympic Qualifier on Wednesday in Sarasota, Florida, qualifying another quota spot for Canada in canoe/kayak sprint for Paris 2024. Canada had previously qualified in the men’s K-4 500m, women’s K-4 500m, women’s K-1 500m, women’s C-1 200m, and women’s C-2 500m at the 2023 ICF World Championships.

That was the last opportunity for Canada to secure Olympic quota spots in canoe/kayak sprint. The Canadian team will now prepare for the first ICF World Cup that takes place May 10-12 in Szeged, Hungary and will be part of the selection process for the Olympic team.

BMX Racing: Molly Simpson has solid showing in Tulsa

Molly Simpson reached the final at the last of six UCI BMX Racing World Cup events this season. On Sunday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the 21-year-old finished sixth, a day after she had advanced as far as the semifinals and finished 14th overall. Both races were won by Australian Saya Sakakibara who leads the World Cup standings.

At the end of February, Simpson had placed fourth in back-to-back World Cup events in Brisbane, Australia.

Golf: Taylor, Hadwin finish top 10 in New Orleans

Nick Taylor and Adam Hadwin finished 10th — four strokes back of the winners — at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. They ended up a 21-under par after shooting a final round 71 which dropped them five spots down the standings. They had opened with a first round of 63 and shot 64 in Saturday’s third round.

The duo, who have known each other since they were 12 growing up in Abbotsford, B.C, went into the weekend in position to be Canada’s men’s Olympic golf team for Paris 2024. Taylor is currently No. 27 on the Official World Golf Ranking while Hadwin is at No., 48, just three spots ahead of Corey Conners.

Judo: 8 Canadians stand on podium in Rio de Janeiro

Eight Canadian judokas reached the podium at the Pan American and Oceania Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Two gold medals were won by Arthur Margelidon (men’s 73kg) and Shady Elnahas (men’s 100kg). Elnahas defeated fellow Canadian Kyle Reyes in the final. François Gauthier-Drapeau also won silver in the men’s 81kg event.

The women’s team was led by Christa Deguchi, who took silver in the women’s 57kg event. The world number one in the weight class lost the final to Brazilian Rafaela Silva, a two-time world champion and 2016 Olympic champion. Deguchi’s sister Kelly took bronze in the women’s 52kg event.

Canada’s medal haul was rounded out by Ana Laura Portuondo Isasi who won silver in the women’s +78kg event and John Jr Messe A Bessong who took bronze in the men’s +100kg event.

Artistic Gymnastics: Cournoyer leads Canada to multiple Pacific Rim podiums

Canada won men’s team silver at the 2024 Pacific Rim Championships in Cali, Colombia. That team included four athletes — René Cournoyer, Zachary Clay, Félix Dolci, and Jayson Rampersad — who helped Canada qualify a full men’s artistic gymnastics team for the Olympic Games for the first time since Beijing 2008.

Cournoyer also won bronze in the men’s all-around as well as two individual apparatus medals — silver on horizontal bar and bronze on parallel bars. Rampersad and Clay finished 1-2 on pommel horse while Sam Zakutney took gold just ahead of Cournoyer on horizontal bar. Zakutney added bronze on floor exercise and Chris Kaji finished third on still rings.

Curling: Canada finishes fifth at World Mixed Doubles Championship

Kadriana Lott and Colton Lott finished fifth at the 2024 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Oestersund, Sweden. After finishing second in Group B with an 8-1 record during the round robin, they lost a tough qualification playoff game to Estonia’s Marie Kaldvee and Harri Lill. Tied 5-5 after the regulation eight ends, the Estonians stole the winning point in the extra end to advance to the semifinals. They went on to take the silver medal behind Sweden.

The fifth-place finish by the Lotts will be combined with Canada’s result at next year’s world championship to hopefully put Canada among the first eight countries to qualify for mixed doubles at Milano Cortina 2026.