Volleyball World - A.S.O./Billy Ceusters - THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Volleyball World - A.S.O./Billy Ceusters - THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Weekend Roundup: Silver for Melissa & Brandie; Ellie Black wins big at nationals

With fewer than 50 days until the Paris 2024 Olympic Games begin, Canadian athletes are shining on the world stage and claiming their spots on Team Canada.

Melissa Humana-Paredes and Brandie Wilkerson capped off the beach volleyball Olympic qualification period with their second podium performance of the year. Ellie Black is on the verge of making Canadian Olympic history after winning her eighth national all-around title. Derek Gee had a big career breakthrough at the most notable warm-up stage race for the Tour de France, while Sarah Mitton continues to be the woman to beat in shot put.

Read on for all the news you might have missed:

Beach Volleyball: Melissa & Brandie take Elite 16 silver in Ostrava

Melissa Humana-Paredes and Brandie Wilkerson took home silver from the Beach Pro Tour Elite 16 stop in Ostrava, Czechia on Sunday.

READ: Humana-Paredes & Wilkerson finish second in Ostrava Beach Pro Tour stop

The Canadian duo fell to Americans Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes in a close final, after not having dropped a set in the five matches leading up to it. Their road to the final included triumphs over World No. 9-ranked Latvian team Tina Graudina and Anastasija Samoilova in the semifinals and World No. 11-ranked Italian pair Valentina Gottardi, and Marta Megatti in the quarterfinals.

Despite being overpowered by Cheng and Hughes in the first set, Humana-Paredes and Wilkerson rallied to take the second set 23-21. Ultimately, the U.S. attack was too powerful, as the Canadians dropped the final set 15-12.

This was the last tournament to count towards the Olympic Qualification Ranking. Humana-Paredes and Wilkerson sit fourth in those rankings, which officially qualifies them for Paris 2024. Though they are the only Canadian beach volleyball team currently qualified for the Olympics, one last opportunity awaits at the NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament Finals which will take place June 19-24 in Tlaxcala, Mexico.

Athletics: Mitton back on top of shot put podium

Sarah Mitton continued to show why she’s an Olympic medal hopeful heading into Paris 2024. The 27-year-old left a lot of distance between herself and the second place thrower at the New York City Grand Prix.

Mitton’s winning throw of 20.15m was more than a metre further than the runner-up, American Raven Saunders. It was her best throw since setting the Canadian record at 20.68m with the longest throw in the world this year on May 11. Mitton now owns four of the top distances in women’s shot put this year.

Elsewhere, Christopher Morales Williams completed in the indoor-outdoor sweep of the men’s 400m titles at the NCAA Championships. The 19-year-old followed up his indoor victory in early March with a win on Friday at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon. His time of 44.47 seconds was his second-best of the year, behind the world-leading 44.05 seconds he ran on May 11.

Also in Eugene, Savannah Sutherland broke the Canadian record twice in the women’s 400m hurdles. After running 54.04 in the prelims on Thursday, Sutherland lowered the mark to 53.26 seconds with her second-place finish in the final on Saturday. That was more than a second faster than Sage Watson’s previous national reecord of 54.32 seconds from 2019.

Road Cycling: Derek Gee finishes third in Tour de France warm-up

Derek Gee capped off a tremendous display of cycling with his performance at the Criterium du Dauphine in southeast France.

In Sunday’s eighth and final stage, Gee crossed the line third after four hours 18 minutes and 17 seconds of riding. That was just 15 seconds back of the stage winner. It secured him a spot on the podium in the individual classification. Gee’s total time of 25 hours 36 minutes and 16 seconds was 36 seconds behind the winner, Primoz Roglic of Slovenia. American Matteo Jorgensen finished second.

Gee’s impressive week included a victory in Stage 3, his first career first place finish that saw him wear the yellow jersey for a day. Gee had memorably made a lot of headlines during the 2023 Giro d’Italia when he finished second in four different stages. The Criterium du Dauphine is known to be a warm-up race for the Tour de France, which begins on June 29 in Florence, Italy.

Artistic Gymnastics: Black, Dolci win all-around national titles

With her eighth career Canadian senior all-around title, Ellie Black has qualified to be nominated to Team Canada for Paris 2024. She is set to become the first Canadian artistic gymnast to compete at four Olympic Games.

She will be joined on the women’s team by Aurélie Tran, who took silver in the women’s all-around at the Canadian Championships this past weekend in Gatineau, Quebec. The remaining three spots on the team will be determined by a selection committee. With her bronze medal in the all-around, Ava Stewart put herself into the mix for one of those spots.

Félix Dolci and René Cournoyer are also qualified to be nominated to the Canadian Olympic Team after taking gold and silver, respectively, in the men’s all-around competition. Rounding out the podium and hoping to take one of the three remaining men’s team spots was William Émard, who placed just ahead of Samuel Zakutney.

Trampoline: Méthot wins national title and Olympic spot

Sophiane Méthot also put her name on Canada’s lone Olympic spot in trampoline by winning the women’s event at the Canadian Championships this past weekend.

It was Méthot who had qualified the quota spot for Canada with her fifth-place finish at the 2023 FIG Trampoline World Championships.

Volleyball: Men’s team goes 2-2 on home turf

Team Canada won two games and lost two games as they hosted the second week of men’s Volleyball Nations League in Ottawa. That brings their overall record to four wins and four losses, which put them seventh in the standings.

The Canadian men won an inspired match in front of the home crowd on Saturday, taking down cross-border rival Team USA in four sets. Stephen Maar dominated the scoring with 24 points.

The squad also won their first matchup of the week against Cuba, but were then taken down by Argentina. On Sunday night, Canada took the first set against Serbia before dropping three straight. The Canadian men will start the third week of Volleyball Nations League on June 18 in the Philippines as part of their tune-up for Paris 2024.

The Canadian women, who are still chasing Olympic qualification, kick off their third week of Volleyball Nations League in Fukuoka, Japan on Tuesday. At the end of the week, the last five Olympic berths will be awarded based on the world rankings.

Golf: Hadwin scores a top-three finish at The Memorial

Adam Hadwin capitalized on a fantastic first round and held on for a third-place finish at The Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio.

Hadwin shot a two-over par 74 in Sunday’s final round, but his early rounds were enough for him to hold for a top three finish. He put his name in the mix thanks to a six-under 66 on Thursday. After back-to-back even rounds of golf, Hadwin entered the final day tied for second. His 74 on Sunday bumped him one spot back. Only six players shot under par in the final round.

With his fifth top-10 finish of the season, Hadwin jumped 24 spots in the Official World Golf Ranking to number 35 — the best ranking of his career. He is now the number two Canadian man, after leapfrogging over Corey Conners to land just three spots behind Nick Taylor. There is one week remaining in the Olympic qualification window for men’s golf. On June 17, the top two Canadian men will be qualified for Paris 2024.

Wrestling: Godinez Gonzalez wins at Olympic tune-up tournament

Ahead of her Olympic debut at Paris 2024, Ana Godinez Gonzalez won the women’s 62kg event at the Polyak Imre & Varga Janos Memorial in Budapest, Hungary over the weekend. She didn’t have to wrestle in the final as her opponent was unable to compete due to injury. But she had won her quarterfinal and semifinal matches 6-2 and 11-7, respectively.