Canada enters the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with a lot of hope and optimism. With 34 top-five finishes in World Championship events, there’s good reason for it.
The Canadian Olympic Committee Chef de Mission Curt Harnett believes our country could get 19 medals, which would be one better than we achieved four years ago in London.
Canada could and should improve upon a disappointing tally in gold medals, having won just one (Rosie MacLennan, in trampoline) in 2012.
Also exciting is the prospect of medaling in some of the Olympics’ marquee events, including the most famous event of all.
With that said, here are 27 Canadian Olympic medal hopefuls this month in Brazil.
1. Andre DeGrasse (100 & 200 m)
With Usain Bolt still competing, Andre DeGrasse isn’t likely to win gold in Rio, but he could win bronze – as he did at the Worlds last year – in the glamour event of the Olympics: the 100-metre sprint. And he’s only 21.
2. 4 x 100 m relay team (Andre De Grasse, Aaron Brown, Brendon Rodney, Segun Makinde, Bolade Ajomale, Akeem Haynes)
Bronze medalists in Beijing a year ago, Canada’s relay team is a strong contender to a medal in this event for the first time since Canada won gold with Donovan Bailey, Bruni Surin, Glenroy Gilbert, and Robert Esmie back in 1996.
3. Brianne Theisen-Eaton (heptathlon)
If anyone is going to stop Canada’s gold medal drought in track and field, it very well could be Brianne Theisen-Eaton. She’s the number one ranked heptathlete in the world and a silver medal winner at last year’s World Championships in Beijing.
4. Damian Warner (decathlon)
The main stumbling block between Damian Warner and a gold medal in Rio is Theisen-Eaton’s American husband, Ashton Eaton. Eaton is the top decathlete in the world, while Warner – a fifth-place finisher at London 2012 – is ranked second.
5. Derek Drouin (high jump)
Sarnia, Ontario’s Derek Drouin is a strong bet for a medal in men’s high jump, given he won bronze at London 2012 and gold at the World Championships last year.
6. Shawn Barber (pole vault)
Like Drouin, Barber won gold at the Worlds last year. Unlike Drouin, Barber is competing in his first Olympics.
7. Christabel Nettey (long jump)
Narrowly missing a medal at the Worlds last year, finishing fourth, Brampton’s Christabel Nettey could snag a medal in Rio.
8. Melissa Bishop (800 m)
A silver medal winner last year in Beijing, Bishop gives Canada hope in the 800 m distance.
9. Ben Thorne (20 km race walk)
Despite having just the 19th-fastest time this year, Kitimat, BC’s Ben Thorne is a medal threat in the 20 km race walk. Thorne, who is just 23 years-old, set a Canadian record winning bronze at the Worlds last year in Beijing.
10. Ryan Cochrane (400 & 1500 m freestyle)
Victoria’s Ryan Cochrane will look to add to his already impressive career medal haul. A medal winner in the 1500 m freestyle the last two Olympics, he’s looking for three in a row. Cochrane is still just 27 years-old and won bronze in both the 400 and 1500 metre races at the World Aquatics Championships in Russia last year.
11. Brittany MacLean (400 & 800 m freestyle)
Brittany MacLean finished 7th in the 400m freestyle final four years ago in London as an 18-year-old. Four years older, the Mississauga product should be in a better position to medal this time around. She’ll be competing in the 400 and 800-metre final in Rio.
12. Kylie Masse (100 m backstroke)
At just 20 years-old, Kylie Masse is already the Canadian record holder in the 100 m backstroke. She’s put up the sixth-fastest time in this event in 2016.
13. Jennifer Abel, Pamela Ware (synchronized 3 m springboard)
Jennifer Abel won bronze in this event with partner Emilie Heymans four years ago in London. This time she’s paired with Pamela Ware, who she won silver with at last year’s World Championships.
14. Meaghan Benfeito, Roseline Filion (synchronized 10 m springboard)
Bronze medallists in this event four years ago in London, Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion are back again in Rio. The pair won silver at last year’s Worlds.
15. Women’s rugby team
Currently third on the World Rugby Sevens Series standings, Canada has a great chance to medal in this sport’s Olympic debut.
16. Women’s soccer team
One of the best Canadian stories of the last Olympics, Canada’s women’s soccer team is in the mix once again. They’re certainly not medal favourites, but don’t count out the bronze medallists from London 2012. Head coach John Herdman has selected a number of young players for this team and they could surprise.
17. Tory Nyhaug (BMX)
The native of Coquitlam, BC is competing in his second Olympics. The 24-year-old won silver at the BMX World Championships in 2014.
18. Allison Beveridge, Laura Brown, Jasmin Glaesser, Kirsti Lay, Georgia Simmerling (team pursuit)
Bronze medallists four years ago in London and bronze medallists in last year’s World Championships, can we expect another bronze this year?
19. Mandy Bujold (51 kg boxing)
Last year’s Pan Am Games gold medallist, Mandy Bujold could surprise some people in her first Olympics. She’s currently the sixth-ranked boxer in her weight class.
20. Antoine Valois-Fortier (judo)
A bronze medallist in London, Antoine Valois-Fortier is still just 26 years-old and a medal threat once again. He grabbed a bronze at the Worlds last year.
21. Erica Wiebe (freestyle wrestling, 75 kg)
Erica Wiebe won gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2014, as well as gold at the Golden Grand Prix in Russia last year.
Country club sports
22. Brooke Henderson (golf)
This year’s winner of the Women’s PGA Championship tournament, Brooke Henderson has an excellent chance for a medal in Brazil. She’s currently third on the LPGA money list.
23. Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil (doubles tennis)
Milos Raonic opted out of Rio, which opened the door for 43-year-old doubles specialist Daniel Nestor. Nestor, who won gold in Sydney 16 years ago, will pair up with Vernon, BC’s Vasek Pospisil.
Nestor is the 9th-ranked doubles player in the world, while Pospisil is 17th. If the pair can find chemistry together, they have a real shot to bring home a medal.
24. Mark de Jonge (K-1 200 m kayak)
A back-to-back gold medalist at the World Championships, 32-year-old Mark de Jonge one of Canada’s best bets to win gold. The Calgary native also has Olympic experience, winning bronze in 2012.
25. Adam van Koeverden (K-1 1000 m kayak)
Adam van Koeverden, who won two medals (gold and bronze) 12 years ago in Athens, is still kayaking at age 34. He’s not at the level he used to be – he has medaled in three straight Olympics – but don’t count an old champion out.
26. Caileigh Filmer, Susanne Grainger, Natalie Mastracci, Cristy Nurse, Lisa Roman, Christine Roper, Lesley Thompson-Willie, Antje von Seydlitz, Lauren Wilkinson (coxed eight women’s rowing)
Canada won silver in this event at the last Olympics and won bronze at the World Championships last year. Our nation isn’t the world power in rowing that we once were, but this is an event that should still yield a medal.
27. Rosie MacLennan (trampoline)
Canada’s flag bearer and this country’s only gold medalist four years ago in London, Rosie MacLennan will be a medal threat once again this year.