TORONTO, CANADA – ‘Twas the night of the swimming, and all through the country, not a sport was sleeping, not even the field hockey. Canadians played, with their efforts in care, holding hopes that gold medals would soon be theirs.
Although the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are five months away from Christmas, that little poem gives a bit of an idea of what the Tokyo Games are like for Canadians. With coffee, coffee and more coffee, Canada stayed up to watch athletes compete halfway across the world.
Over 370 Canadian athletes are competing in Tokyo, and nearly a third of them directly connect to U SPORTS and Canadian university sports. So without getting too fancy, let’s get into how those student-athletes and graduates did in Japan on Day 3.
Thunderbirds nearly grab a medal, and a McGillian represents Lebanon
After Canada’s women’s 4x100m swim relay team captured a silver medal on Day 2, eyes turned to individual events on Day 3 at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre. Canada’s Maggie Mac Neil won the nation’s first gold medal of the Games in the 100m butterfly, and 14-year-old Summer McIntosh finished fourth in the 400m freestyle.
A trio of current and former UBC Thunderbirds came close to a podium finish in the men’s 4x100m relay, as 37-year-old Brent Hayden led fellow T-Birds Yuri Kisil and Markus Thormeyer to a fourth-place finish. Teenager Josh Liendo completed the four-man team. The competition was Hayden’s return to Olympic action after retiring following a bronze medal win at London 2012.
University of Toronto graduate and OUA champion Kylie Masse finished third in the women’s 100m backstroke heats and will compete in the semifinal on Monday night in Canada. Representing Lebanon, McGill Marlet Gabriella Doueihy finished 29th in the 200m freestyle heats and will not compete in the semifinals.
Volleyball keeps in close with Japan
Canada fell to the host nation, Japan, in four sets of men’s volleyball on Monday morning, with a team featuring 10 U SPORTS-related players. Team Canada won a passionately contested first set 25-23 before losing three straight to drop to 0-2 in the Olympic tournament.
Thompson River Wolfpack alumnus Gordon Perrin led Canada with 20 attack points, while Calgary Dinos graduate Jay Blankenau made 38 sets. Canada will now look for their first win of the tournament on Monday against Iran.
Beach volleyball dominance continues
York Lions alumnus Melissa Huama-Paredes and her partner Sarah Pavan are gold medal favourites in women’s beach volleyball, and they are playing like it. The pair picked up their second consecutive win, defeating Germany’s Julia Sude and Karla Borger on Monday.
The two will continue their quest for gold against Switzerland’s Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich on Thursday.
Canada gets out to a slow start in men’s rugby sevens
In Rugby Sevens, anything can happen. With such short tournaments on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens circuit, teams are used to quick turnarounds and playing 3-4 times a day. In the Olympic tournament, however, the games are more spread out.
Although men’s rugby is not U SPORTS sanctioned, several Canadian universities field teams in conference competitions.
Canada’s men did not qualify for Rio 2016 and made their Olympic debut on Sunday night in Japan. UBC’s Theo Sauder, Phil Berna, Harry Jones and Andrew Coe are on the team, as well as UVic’s Pat Kay and Nathan Hirayama, Queen’s Matt Mullins and Western’s Conor Trainor.
Team Canada lost their opening game to Great Britain 24-0 but scored their first points through a Hirayama try in their second match, a 28-14 loss to defending Olympic champions, Fiji. Canada will have to defeat Japan in their final pool stage game if they want to advance to the knockout rounds.
Field Hockey hangs tough
A combined 13 current and former UBC Thunderbirds are playing for the Candian field hockey team in Tokyo. After losing their first game to Germany, the Canadians took on Team GB, one of Europe’s top teams.
Canada looked much better against Great Britain than they did against the Germans, hanging in tight with the Queen’s preferred country until the game’s latter stages. Floris Van Son scored Canada’s only goal in the 3-1 loss, while UBC’s Jamie Wallace picked up his 50th Canadian cap.
Team Canada takes on the Netherlands in their next match.
Women’s basketball loses to Serbia
University of Saskatchewan Head Coach Lisa Thomaidis and the Canadian women’s basketball team lost 72-68 in their Olympic opener against Serbia. Simon Fraser University graduate Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe started the game for Canada and scored eight points.
Also on the Canadian bench is X Rams Head Coach Carly Clarke, who is an assistant to Thomaidis on the national team.
Coming up: Potential swimming medals and soccer
The aforementioned Kylie Masse swims for the gold medal in the women’s 200m backstroke on Monday night in Canada. She won a bronze medal in the event five years ago in Rio and will look to add another podium finish to her already stellar swimming resume.
The Canadian women’s soccer team featuring Univesity of Manitoba graduate Desiree Scott faces Team GB at 7:00 am ET on Tuesday as they look to clinch their spot in the knockout rounds. Canada has won the bronze medal in women’s soccer in the last two Olympic Games.
These recaps do not go over every Canadian university athlete each day, as there are over 100 of them. 49 Sports will highlight the top stories, medals and moments from Canadian University athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Follow @49Sportnet on Twitter for regular updates.