After qualifying for just two team sports at London 2012, Canada has made a comeback of sorts this year. Canada will compete in soccer, basketball, rugby, volleyball, and field hockey at Rio 2016.
Here’s a look at what to expect.
You’re all familiar with Canada’s women’s soccer team by now.
The darlings of the London Games, Canada was robbed of an upset win against the Americans in the semi-finals. They collected themselves after that game and defeated France to secure the bronze medal.
After a quarter-final loss to England at last year’s World Cup, head coach John Herdman has revamped his roster, selecting a number of young players to go with some tried and true veterans. We saw that on display in Canada’s 2-0 win on Wednesday, as 21-year-old Janine Beckie – playing in her first major tournament – scored the first goal of the game. Canadian soccer legend, 33-year-old Christine Sinclair, got the second.
Canada enters the tournament at the 10th-ranked team in the world, so they’re hardly medal favourites. But if Canada’s youth and veterans can come together, don’t be shocked if they repeat as medallists.
A bit under the radar heading into Rio is Canada’s women’s basketball team.
Four years ago, Canada finished fourth in their group which set-up a quarter-final matchup against the powerhouse Americans. Team USA is dominant in women’s basketball, so it didn’t end well for Canada, losing 91-48.
This time around, Canada’s fortunes should be better.
Canada is the ninth-ranked team in the world heading into the tournament. They’re grouped with USA (#1-ranked), Spain (#3), and China (#8). Canada needs to finish in the top-four to advance to the quarter-finals, which includes a likely matchup against Australia (#2) or France (#4).
By virtue of the Americans being in their group, Canada is guaranteed to avoid them in the quarters this time around.
Also different this time is the development of Canada’s star player, Kia Nurse. Nurse, a 6-foot guard who plays for the University of Connecticut, is only 20 years-old and was not on the team four years ago. She could be a difference maker, as she was in FIBA Americas qualifying last year, dropping 20 points in the decisive game.
Rugby sevens makes its Olympic debut in Rio, and Canada has a good shot at a medal in the women’s tournament.
Canada finished second in the World Rugby Sevens Series in 2014-15, finishing behind only New Zealand. This year, Canada is in third-place, behind New Zealand and Australia.
Canada is capable of winning gold in this tournament, as they won the last World Rugby Sevens Series tournament in May.
Canada will compete in men’s volleyball at the Olympics for the first time since 1992.
The 12th-ranked team in the world, Canada is not expected to win a medal. They’ll need to finish in the top-four of their six-team group to advance to the quarter-finals.
After missing out on the 2012 Olympics, Canada’s men’s field hockey team is back. Ranked #15 in the world, Canada isn’t expected to challenge for a medal.
This event has been dominated by Germany, the Netherlands, and Australia in the past. The Aussies are the favourites heading in, trying to win their first Olympic gold since 2004.
No matter where they finish, it’s refreshing to see Canadian teams back competing at the highest level. Canada’s soccer team has already begun their Olympic tournament, beating Australia 2-0 on Wednesday. On Saturday, Canada will begin play in basketball, rugby, and field hockey, while Team Canada will begin play in volleyball on Sunday.