Athletics Canada/Kenny Zhong - IJF/Emanuele Di Deliciantonio - AP Photo/Manu Fernandez
Athletics Canada/Kenny Zhong - IJF/Emanuele Di Deliciantonio - AP Photo/Manu Fernandez

Weekend Roundup: Team Canada qualifies three relays for Paris 2024; a career first final for Auger-Aliassime

The Bahamas were buzzing this weekend as the Olympic relay fields for Paris 2024 took form in athletics. Three Canadian squads have secured their spots on the start line this summer, with two winning medals against the best from the rest of the world.

Elsewhere, the Canadian women’s 3×3 basketball team came one win shy of booking their ticket to Paris 2024, but have one more opportunity to qualify on the horizon. Plus, Félix Auger-Aliassime played in the biggest singles final of his ATP career while Jessica Klimkait was golden at yet another Grand Slam.

Here’s a quick look at all the action you might have missed:

Athletics: Three relays qualified for Paris 2024, two medals won at World Athletics Relays

Among the 70 teams that qualified for the Olympic relay events at the World Athletics Relays in the Bahamas over the weekend were three Canadian squads.

READ: Three Canadian relay teams punch tickets for Paris 2024

Leading the way was the quartet that were the 2022 World Champions in the men’s 4x100m relay — Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney, and Andre De Grasse. They won their first round heat on Saturday night in a season’s best time of 38.11 to lock up an Olympic spot for Canada in the event. They went even faster in Sunday’s final, running 37.89 to take the silver medal behind only behind the world-leading time of 37.40 ran by the United States.

Canada will also compete in the women’s 4x100m relay at Paris 2024 after Sade McCreath, Marie-Éloise Leclair, Audrey Leduc, and Crystal Emmanuel-Ahye finished second in their first round heat with a season’s best time of 42.98. Leduc, who just two weeks earlier broke a nearly 40-year-old national record in the 100m, ran the third leg in 10.18 to get Canada into the qualifying position. With Donna Ntambue subbing in as the anchor, Canada finished seventh in Sunday’s final.

In the women’s 4x400m relay, in which Canada has come so close to major podiums in the recent past — finishing fourth at Tokyo 2020 as well as the 2022 and 2023 World Athletics Championships — there was a bronze medal for Zoe Sherar, Aiyanna Stiverne, Alyssa Marsh, and Kyra Constantine thanks to their season’s best time of 3:25.17. That same quartet had finished second in their first round heat to secure the Olympic spot.

Canada just missed qualifying in the mixed 4x400m relay. Michael Roth, Lauren Gale, Callum Robinson, and Madeline Price ran a national record 3:14.66 in their second round heat on Sunday, but crossed the line third, one spot shy of the Olympic spot. Canada also missed out in the men’s 4x400m relay. In both of those relays, only two Olympic spots remain to be filled by the teams with the two fastest times during the qualification period.

3×3 Basketball: Canada will play in last chance Olympic qualifier

Canada came within a couple of buckets of qualifying for Paris 2024 at the FIBA 3×3 Universality Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2 in Utsunomiya, Japan.

Seeded second, the squad of Kacie Bosch, Paige Crozon, Katherine Plouffe, and Michelle Plouffe won two of their three games in pool play to advance to the semifinals. After defeating Germany 18-12, they faced Australia in the final — the team that had handed them their only loss in the preliminary round. Unfortunately, it didn’t go Canada’s way as they lost 19-16. Down by just a point with five seconds to play, Canada took a foul and the Aussies made both free throws to get the three-point win and the Olympic spot.

Paige Crozon was the tournament’s leading scorer with 33 points, averaging 6.6 per game. Canada will have one last chance to qualifying for Paris 2024 at the FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament that will take place May 16-19 in Debrecen, Hungary. The top three teams there will earn their Olympic tickets.

Judo: Klimkait golden at Grand Slam in Tajikistan

Jessica Klimkait returned to the top of an IJF Grand Slam podium, winning the women’s 57kg event in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. In the final, she defeated World No. 7 Sarah Leonie Cysique of France, who had beaten Klimkait in the semifinals at Tokyo 2020. This is Klimkait’s seventh career Grand Slam gold medal, but her first on the circuit since October 2023. She did keep alive a podium streak that has been going since February 2020.

“I’m happy to be on top of the podium, especially after my recent silver place in Georgia. I made sure to be patient and focus on the details in the final. I’m glad that it came together,” Klimkait said.

Klimkait is ranked second in the world in the women’s 57kg weight class, behind only her fellow Canadian Christa Deguchi. A country can only qualify one athlete per weight class for Paris 2024. That sets the stage for the very important IJF World Championships, which will run May 19-23 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Tennis: Auger-Aliassime reaches first ever Masters 1000 final

Félix Auger-Aliassime came within a set of capturing his first ever ATP Masters 1000 title over the weekend.

Auger-Aliassime had an unconventional route to his first Masters 1000 final at the Madrid Open. After taking down World No. 6 Casper Ruud in the Round of 16, the Canadian got through the next two rounds via back-to-back walkovers. World No. 2 Jannik Sinner didn’t even take to the court in the quarterfinals while Jiri Lehecka retired in the first set of their semifinal.

Facing World No. 8 Andrey Rublev in the final, Auger-Aliassime showed no signs of rust early, taking the opening set 6-4. But Rublev came back to take the next two sets 7-5, 7-5. With his appearance in the final, Auger-Aliassime jumped 15 spots in the ATP Singles Ranking to get back into the top 20 for the first time since late October 2023.

Golf: Pendrith claims first career PGA Tour title

Taylor Pendrith took home his first career PGA Tour title with four spectacular rounds of golf at the CJ Cup Byron Nelson in McKinney, Texas.

The 31-year-old threw himself into the mix on Saturday after shooting an eight-under 63. Pendrith started Sunday afternoon with the clubhouse lead. He held on to shoot a final round four-under 67, finishing one stroke ahead of American Ben Kohles to claim the title with a final care of 23-under par.

With the victory, Pendrith jumped 49 spots to his best ever ranking of 58th on the Official World Golf Ranking. He is now the fourth-ranked Canadian on the list. The top two on June 17 will qualify for Paris 2024. Nick Taylor and Adam Hadwin currently occupy those spots, ranked 26th and 49th, respectively, in the Official World Golf Ranking. Corey Conners is close behind at number 52.

Artistic Swimming: Three medals at World Cup in Paris

Canada came away from the World Aquatics Artistic Swimming World Cup in Paris with one silver and two bronze medals. This competition also served as the official test event of the brand new Aquatics Centre that has been constructed for Paris 2024.

On Saturday, Canada claimed silver in the team free routine, earning a score of 297.5853 to place second to Japan’s 323.3207. Canada finished fifth in both the team technical and team acrobatic routines. At Paris 2024, those three routines are combined into one team event.

Audrey Lamothe and Jacqueline Simoneau won bronze in both the women’s duet technical and duet free routines. Those two routines will comprise the duet event at Paris 2024.

Fencing: Guo just misses World Cup podium in Hong Kong

Just a couple weeks after being named to Team Canada for Paris 2024, Jessica Guo finished one place off the podium at an FIE World Cup in Hong Kong. The 18-year-old Canadian, ranked seventh in the world in women’s individual foil, was defeated in the quarterfinals by the eventual champion, American Maia Mei Weintraub, to finish fifth overall in the tournament. It is the second straight World Cup at which Guo has reached the quarterfinals.