Women are going to carry Canada's Olympic team (again)
Just like in Rio, the vast majority of our medals will likely come from female athletes
This Sunday is International Women's Day. Seems like a good time to point out that women are probably going to carry the Canadian Olympic team this summer. According to the latest medals forecast released by a data company called Gracenote, women are projected to win 18 of Canada's expected 22 medals — including three of the four gold.
This isn't a new phenomenon. Women accounted for 16 of Canada's 22 medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and three of the four gold. But the gender gap looks like it'll get even wider in Tokyo. With that in mind, here are some of the top Canadian women you should know about — and follow — as the Games approach:
The swimmer from LaSalle, Ont., won back-to-back world titles in the 100-metre backstroke in 2017 and '19. She's favoured to add an Olympic gold to the bronze medal she won in this event in 2016. Masse is also a good bet to reach the podium in the 200 back after taking bronze at the world championships last year, and she might tack on a relay medal or two.
All of the swimmers, actually
Canada won a national-record eight medals in the pool at the last world championships, and they all came from women. A similar scenario is likely to play out in Tokyo, where Gracenote's model has Canada winning seven swimming medals — again, all by women. Besides Masse, the most likely Canadian individual medallists are Maggie MacNeil (the reigning world champ in the 100 butterfly) and Sydney Pickrem (a bronze medallist in both the 200 breaststroke and 200 medley at the last worlds).
Penny Oleksiak seems unlikely to repeat her stunning performance from the 2016 Olympics. She hasn't looked like quite the same swimmer since then. But she's still a valuable member of several relay teams and could pick up multiple medals that way.
Laurence Vincent Lapointe
The world's most dominant women's canoe athlete was recently cleared to compete after officials ruled she didn't knowingly take a banned drug she tested positive for last summer. That's huge for Canada because Vincent Lapointe has a great chance of winning two gold medals. She won the 200m singles race at six of the last seven world championships she competed in, and she's also taken four world titles in the 500m doubles race with various partners.
If you haven't heard of Vincent Lapointe before, it's probably because women's canoe has never appeared in the Olympics. But that's about to change in Tokyo, where the solo 200 and doubles 500 are the two races on the program.
Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes
They're the reigning world champs in the glamour event of beach volleyball, and they're currently ranked No. 1 in the world. Pavan made it to the quarter-finals at the 2016 Olympic with former partner Heather Bansley, but she and Humana-Paredes obviously have a much higher ceiling.
In Rio, the trampoline star became the first Canadian ever to win back-to-back gold medals in the same individual event at the Summer Olympics. MacLennan went on to win the world title in 2018 and took bronze at the world championships last year despite suffering a broken ankle only seven months earlier.
If she three-peats in Tokyo, MacLennan will join rowing teammates Marnie McBean and Kathleen Heddle as the only Canadians to win three gold medals in the Summer Olympics.
No Canadian woman has ever won an Olympic medal in traditional gymnastics, but Black should contend for one in Tokyo. She finished fourth in the marquee all-around event at last year's world championships, and she won silver at the 2017 worlds in Montreal.
The Canadian women's soccer team won bronze at the last two Olympics, and the rugby sevens squad also took bronze in Rio. They'll both contend for the podium again.
The basketball team might be on the verge of its first Olympic medal — it's ranked fourth in the world and looking better than ever. Softball is returning to the Olympics in Tokyo, and the Canadian team is a podium threat in that event too — it's ranked third in the world.
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