It was a MOMumental day — thanks to 2 Canadian Olympians
Mandy Bujold, Kim Gaucher win one for working mothers
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Two Canadian Olympians scored big wins for working moms
The International Olympic Committee has, in recent years, strived for greater gender balance in the Games. In some respects it has delivered, adding some women's and mixed events to the programs in an attempt to even out participation rates in relation to men. According to the IOC, "almost 49 cent" of the athletes in Tokyo will be women, and its trumpeting these as "the first gender-equal Olympic Games." If you can look past that little numerical stretch, it appears the IOC is making good on its promise.
But that just made it even more disappointing to see the obstacles faced by two Canadian Olympians who are also mothers. Boxer Mandy Bujold looked like she would miss the Tokyo Games after a May qualifying tournament in Argentina was cancelled due to the pandemic and officials decided to use the results from three events in 2018 and '19 to determine the Olympic field. The problem for Bujold was that she was either pregnant with or caring for her baby daughter at the time, leaving the fighter ranked No. 2 in her weight class before her maternity leave ineligible to compete in the Olympics. Bujold petitioned the IOC for an exception. But she was turned down, forcing her to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Kim Gaucher's case is even more disheartening in the sense that she was asking for so little. The veteran guard on the Canadian women's basketball team is breastfeeding her three-month-old daughter. Normally, Gaucher would be allowed to bring her along to Tokyo. But, because of the pandemic, Olympic organizers made a rule that athletes' family members and friends are not allowed to attend. This put Gaucher in the extremely difficult spot of potentially having to choose between playing in the Olympics and feeding her baby in the way she believes is best. An appeal was made, asking for Gaucher's daughter and husband to be allowed to accompany her to Japan. But the lack of a timely response from the IOC compelled Gaucher to plead her case through social media and the press last week. As she crisply worded it: "It's 2021. Let's see if we can make working moms normal."
Well, thanks to the tenacity of these two Canadian women, that's a little closer to reality today. Bujold won her fight when the Court of Arbitration ruled that the Olympic qualification criteria must include an accommodation for women who were pregnant or postpartum during the qualifying window. That clears the way for the 11-time Canadian flyweight champ to compete in Tokyo. Read Bujold's reaction to the decision and what she thinks it means for equality in this first-person piece.
Right around the same time Bujold prevailed, the IOC announced it will now allow breastfeeding mothers to bring their children to Tokyo, finally granting the easy solution to Gaucher's humble request.
Truly a *mom*umental day (hat tip to my colleague Monika Platek for that outstanding mom joke). Now let's hope the IOC permanently corrects the blind spots Gaucher and Bujold exposed. Because have you really achieved a "gender-equal" Olympics if you're not doing right by working moms?
The Canadian men's basketball team is a step closer to the Olympics
It was a sweat, but Canada avoided what could have been a devastating setback last night, defeating Greece 97-91 in the opener of its last-chance, must-win Olympic qualifying tournament in Victoria.
Despite being 13.5-point underdogs and having only one NBA player on their roster (Giannis Antetokounmpo's sparingly used brother Kostas), the Greeks led by eight late in the first half. But Nickeil Alexander-Walker kept his team afloat by scoring 16 of his 18 points in the second quarter, and Canada's big edge in NBA talent (eight of its players are in the league) fully manifested itself after halftime. Andrew Wiggins scored 10 of his game-high 23 points in the third quarter, RJ Barrett dropped 12 of his 22 in the fourth, Lu Dort used his quickness and tenacity to harass the Greeks on defence, and the Canadians just generally looked like the more skilled and much more athletic team once things clicked for them. Watch highlights and read more about how Canada unlocked its talent after halftime in this analysis piece by CBC Sports' Myles Dichter.
Canada is back on the court tonight vs. China, which has no NBA players. The Canadians are 22.5-point favourites, and the moneyline odds imply they have about a 94 per cent chance of winning. So, barring a highly improbable disaster, Canada will finish first in its group with a 2-0 record and advance to face the second-place team from the other group (Turkey, Uruguay, Czech Republic) in Saturday's semifinals (start times for those are still TBD). The semifinal winners will play for a spot in the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday.
Tonight's game tips off just after 7 p.m. ET. Watch it live on CBC Gem, CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app. Sunday's final is also at 7 p.m. ET. You can stream it live via any of those three options or watch it live on the CBC TV network.
Canada named its Olympic women's basketball team. Quite the whirlwind for Kim Gaucher. A few hours before learning she'll be allowed to bring her infant daughter to Tokyo, Gaucher was one of the players named to the Canadian roster last night. The 37-year-old guard played in the 2012 and '16 Games, and was Canada's captain for the latter. Both appearances ended in a quarter-final loss, but the Canadian women are eyeing their first-ever Olympic medal this time as they head to Tokyo ranked fourth in the world. Three WNBA players are on the team — guards Kia Nurse and Bridget Carleton, and forward Natalie Achonwa — though Achonwa's status is uncertain as she recovers from a knee injury. The newcomers include forward Aaliyah Edwards, who's coming off an excellent freshman season for U.S. college powerhouse UConn. Read more about the Canadian squad in this story by CBC Sports' Myles Dichter.
Bianca Andreescu crashed out of Wimbledon. The No. 5 seed got rolled 6-2, 6-1 in the first round today by Alize Cornet, the 58th-ranked player in the world. Andreescu has won one Grand Slam match since her U.S. Open title almost two years ago. Her next big match will be at the Tokyo Olympics, where the tennis tournaments open three weeks from this Friday in Canadian time zones. Unseeded Leylah Fernandez also lost her first-round match today, leaving Canada with no players in the women's singles draw. In the men's, 16th-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime advanced to the second round in straight sets today, while No. 10 Denis Shapovalov reached the third round when his opponent was unable to play due to injury. Unseeded Vasek Pospisil lost his second-round match to American Frances Tiafoe, who was coming off his upset of No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas. Read more about today's key Wimbledon results and watch highlights here.
Connor McDavid joined an extremely exclusive club. The 24-year-old Oilers superstar and Wayne Gretzky are now the only two players to be voted unanimous winners of the Hart Trophy in the 97-year-old history of the NHL's MVP award. Gretzky won the Hart nine times, but he swept the first-place vote only once — for the 1981-82 season, when he scored an NHL-record 92 goals. When Gretzky set the points record with 215 in 1985-86, he lost four first-place votes to Mario Lemieux (alright...), one to Paul Coffey (k…) and one to John Vanbiesbrouck (No!). Read more about McDavid's semi-historic win and the other NHL awards handed out last night here.
The NBA playoffs are a demolition derby. And not even a fun one. The amount of significant injuries suffered by star players got depressing weeks ago. Now it's just absurd. Last night, Atlanta's Trae Young, who's been the breakout star of the playoffs, was unable to play in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final after hurting his ankle by stepping on a ref's foot. Then, early in the second half, Milwaukee's two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo left with a knee injury that's feared to be season-ending. Other marquee names who have missed time due to injuries in this year's playoffs include Anthony Davis, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard, who hurt his knee late in the last round and has missed all five games of the Western Conference final so far. The only final-four team that has (mostly) avoided the injury bug is Phoenix, and even they saw Chris Paul hampered by a bad shoulder in the first round before missing the first two games of the Western final when he was placed in the NBA's COVID-19 protocol. The Suns, who lead the series 3-2 heading into tonight's game in L.A., have to be considered the title favourites now — if only because they're the one team whose engine is still intact.
The Euro quarter-finals are set. The battle for continental men's soccer supremacy resumes Friday with Switzerland vs. Spain and Belgium vs. Italy. On Saturday it's the Czech Republic vs. Denmark and Ukraine vs. England. The semifinals are next Tuesday and Wednesday at London's Wembley Stadium. England looks to have the clearest path to the July 11 final, which is also at Wembley.
The Montreal Canadiens have something to prove tonight. They hung tough into the third period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final, but the final score of 5-1 reflected Tampa Bay's dominance for most of the game. Montreal will be looking to show in Game 2 that it can compete with the defending champs. A win tonight could also make for a more boisterous Game 3 crowd in Montreal on Friday night. A decision from Quebec public health on whether to increase capacity at the Bell Centre from 3,500 fans to 10,500 (about half full) was expected today. Watch tonight's game live at 8 p.m. ET on the CBC TV network, CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app.
Just a quick note that the newsletter is taking a long, long weekend starting tomorrow. We're back Monday, when the start of competition at the Tokyo Olympics will be just two weeks and change away.
You're up to speed. Have a great long weekend.