Tag Archives: Olympic

Canada clinches 2022 men’s curling Olympic spot with Bottcher’s key win over Norway

Canada’s Brendan Bottcher downed Norway’s Steffan Walstad 6-4 in the men’s world curling championship Thursday — an important win for the host country.

The victory ensured the Canadian rink a spot in the playoffs, thus qualifying the country for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The World Curling Federation confirmed to CBC Sports that Canada clinched following the match.

  • Watch and engage with CBC Sports’ That Curling Show live (Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET; Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET; Sunday 5 p.m. ET) featuring the men’s curling championship on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The top six teams at the conclusion of the preliminary round Friday remain in contention for the world title while qualifying for the Olympics.

The top two seeds earn byes to Saturday’s semifinals. Sergey Glukhov’s Russian Curling Federation team and Sweden’s Niklas Edin locked down those semifinal berths with 10-2 records Thursday.

John Shuster of the United States earned a playoff spot with a 9-3 record.

Scotland’s Bruce Mouat and Canada are tied at 8-4, and Norway and Switzerland’s Peter de Cruz are both 7-5 . They will battle for the three remaining playoff berths Friday. Canada caps the round-robin against Germany (4-8) on Friday.

Teams third through sixth in the standings will compete in qualification games with winners reaching the final four. The medal games are Sunday.

WATCH | Bottcher clips Walstad for key victory:

Canada clinches playoff spot in the men’s world curling championship and qualifies for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing with Brendan Bottcher’s 6-4 win over Norway’s Steffen Walstad. 0:42

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | Sports News

With Olympic spot hanging in the balance, Canadian curlers pushed to the edge at men’s worlds

There was a time, not that long ago, when Canada arrived at the men’s world curling championship and there were those games littered across the schedule you could basically pencil in a win for the Canadian curlers.

There were those “they should” win games — free spaces on the bingo card. 

But those days are over. And it’s been proven this week.

Canada is on the verge of missing the playoffs at the event, but more importantly, missing a prime opportunity to qualify for the 2022 Olympics.

  • Watch and engage with CBC Sports’ That Curling Show live (Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET; Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET; Sunday 5 p.m. ET) featuring the men’s curling championship on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Brendan Bottcher and his team out of Edmonton have been the mark of consistency for years. They’ve been one of the best teams in the world. To make it to four consecutive Brier finals, finally breaking through with a title this year, is no small feat. 

But an international event with the weight of the maple leaf pressing down is a different beast entirely. And Bottcher and company are teetering on the edge. 

With a 7-4 record and two games left in the round robin, Canada finds itself in a must-win situation Thursday night (9 p.m. ET) against Norway, and then in its last game against Germany on Friday. The top six teams in the round robin advance to the playoffs and qualify for Beijing. 

WATCH | Russia collects 1st win ever against Canada at worlds:

After Canada skip Brendan Bottcher made a runback double takeout to score three to force an extra end, Russian skip Sergey Glukhov scored a single as Russia defeated Canada for the first time at the world men’s curling championship. 2:21

Nothing is easy

It looked like Canada would easily clinch a spot. But then Wednesday happened.

Canada lost to the Russian Curling Federation for the first time at the event. Just a day earlier they lost to Korea for the first time as well.

And then in a stunning collapse Wednesday night, Canada was outscored 7-1 in the last three ends against Sweden to lose 9-7. 

It’s gotten uncomfortably tense now. 

The rest of the world has been gaining on Canada for years. The rhetoric the past decade was that international teams were gaining on Canada. They’re on the same level as Canada now and the pressure has hit a different levels. 

Since the 2018 Olympics, when the Canadians failed to podium for the first time in the history of the Games, there hasn’t been a lot of gold to talk about. 

For as dire as the situation has gotten, this is not a time to panic for the Canadians. Bottcher is known for his steely resolve and calm demeanour. He showed it again last night in the post-game interview, his voice steady and his tone relatively optimistic.

“We really need to compartmentalize today. We actually played quite a few really good ends of curling as a team,” Bottcher told reporters. “We made a lot of really good shots. When we get back on the ice tomorrow [Thursday] it’s got to be a brand new game”

We’ll learn a lot about the character of this team in the coming days. And past history shows they’ll meet the moment. 

There’s no question it’s been a wild and somewhat wacky bonspiel to this point. Consider where Switzerland, reigning bronze medallist at the Olympics and a formidable opponent, sits. The Swiss are at five losses heading into the last two days of the round robin. Nobody could have predicted that. 

It’s almost unfathomable to consider either Canada or Switzerland having to compete in a last-chance Olympic qualifier but here we are. 

WATCH | Canada collapses against Sweden:

Niklas Edin scores 4 in the 10th end and lifts Sweden to a 9-7 victory over Canada’s Brendan Bottcher. Sweden sits alone in first place while Canada falls to 6th place. 1:21

Bottcher team resilient

Bottcher’s team knows how to be resilient having lost three consecutive Brier finals, only to rise from the granite ashes this year to win the national championship. The rink is going to have to dig deeper than even before to string together what could become a memorable comeback if it’s able to make it, not only into the playoffs, but a medal game.

But should Bottcher’s team falter the rest of the way though and miss this chance at the Olympics, all is not lost for Canada. 

A last-chance qualifier has been scheduled for this upcoming December, with exact dates and a location yet to be announced. There will be anywhere from nine to 11 teams competing and will include either three or four spots, depending on where host China finishes the rest of the way at the men’s world championship.

The Canadian Olympic curling trials are scheduled for late-November in Saskatoon to determine what team would potentially represent Canada at the Games. But who that team would be could get messy. 

It’s something Canadian curlers and Canadian curling fans don’t even want to have to consider.

It’s pretty simple to avoid. Just win the rest of the way. 

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | Sports News

Canadian Olympic men’s soccer hopes dashed by Mexico in Tokyo qualifier

Canada has fallen short in its bid for its first Olympic men’s soccer berth in 37 years.

Uriel Antuna and Johan Vasquez scored to lift mighty Mexico to a 2-0 victory over Canada in the do-or-die semifinals of the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship Sunday.

The Mexicans, who won Olympic gold in 2012, clinched their 12th Olympic berth with the victory. The Canadian men, which haven’t played on the Olympic stage since 1984, are forced to wait another three years.

The Canadians knew they faced a mammoth battle against a CONCACAF giant that has never lost to Canada in a competitive match on its home soil. Canada came into the game 0-4-2 against Mexico at the under-23 level in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying since 1992.

WATCH | Canada loses in semis to Mexico:

Canada fell short of a spot at the Tokyo Olympics after losing 2-0 to Mexico at the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship. 1:23

Canada’s defence was excellent in keeping Mexico off the scoreboard through 57 minutes before Mexico capitalized on a risky pass up the middle by goalie James Pantemis that went straight to the opponent.

Antuna, who’s scored eight goals in 16 appearances for Mexico’s full national side, was open just inside the box and one-timed a pass past Pantemis, who was otherwise solid all night.

Mexico delivered more heartbreak in the 64th minute when Vasquez out leapt Canadian defenders to get his head on a free kick.

The Mexicans outshot Canada 19-3, and 6-1 on target.


Canada had an early chance scuttled when Tajon Buchanan was taken down just outside Mexico’s box. Buchanan raised his arms in frustration when no foul was called.

Mexico outshot Canada 7-2 in the first half, including three on target, their first chance coming from a header off a corner kick in the 19th minute that sailed just wide of the net.

There were some scary moments midway through the first half when Pantemis appeared to hurt his right shoulder when he dove to deflect a shot from Antuna. Pantemis, a 24-year-old who plays for CF Montreal in Major League Soccer, grimaced in pain on the pitch for a couple of minutes but stayed in the game.

He was forced into action less than a minute later, diving to smother another attack from Antuna.

The half ended in a shoving match that brought Mexico’s substitutes off the bench.

Lucas Dias was a bright spot on the night in his first start for Canada. The 18-year-old displayed his skill early on, dribbling through three Mexicans in the midfield before being fouled. Dias, who plays in Lisbon for Sporting CP’s U23 squad, replaced previous team captain Derek Cornelius, who twisted a knee against Honduras and surely had a tough night watching from the bench.

Mexico remains undefeated

Canada finished second in Group B behind Honduras on goal difference after the teams played to a 1-1 draw on Thursday. Mexico went undefeated to win Group A.

Canada’s senior squad, meanwhile, watched the game from Bradenton, Fla., and sent a good luck message via video. The Canadians were slated to play the Cayman Islands on Sunday, but the game was delayed a day due to issues with pre-match COVID-19 tests taken by the Cayman Islands delegation, which did not meet FIFA requirements.

Canada’s women, the two-time reigning Olympic bronze medallists, have already clinched their Tokyo berth.

Mexico will play Honduras in the tournament final. The Americans will miss their third consecutive Olympics after a 2-1 loss to Honduras in the other semifinal Sunday.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | Soccer News

Why a Canadian legend walked away on the verge of her Olympic dream

Missing the certainty of yesterday but emboldened by the potential of tomorrow, Krystina Alogbo is embracing a new challenge.

At her teammate’s house in Verona, Italy for the sake of better internet — a site known most famously as the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet — Alogbo is relaxed and seated with a Monet-like setting behind her, a sailboat calmly floating along the river. Her playing career heading off into the sunset, with many dreams accomplished and injuries having taken their toll, a normal life and financial security in the afterlife of an athlete is top of mind.

Now acting as a player-coach for CSS Verona in the twilight of her playing days, Alogbo’s glittery 16-year international career at water polo’s highest level ends without an Olympic appearance. After guiding the Canadian women’s national team to a spot in the Tokyo Olympics as captain in 2019, health and COVID-19 emerged victorious as the postponement due to the global pandemic saw Alogbo suddenly announce her retirement in August, a month after she was supposed to achieve that dream.

“It wasn’t a relief because it was still a shock,” Alogbo said after revealing she spent months debating the decision. “It is 15 years of my life, it took a couple months to even come to that decision and actually realizing it was another thing because I was here [in Verona], the relief — it didn’t happen for a while. I can’t even tell you if I’m okay yet because I’ve talked to many ex-teammates of mine and it took a lot of time for them to get back on the saddle and getting into their new life and careers so I don’t think it’s that easy. No matter what way you go, there’s always that part of you that is missing.”

How does one of the best players in the game move on from missing out on her biggest goal despite accomplishments that can fill a room? Alogbo staked her claim as one of the future faces of women’s water polo when she won MVP at the 2003 FINA world junior championships where Canada won gold, won MVP of the senior world championships in 2009 as Canada were forced to settle for silver, was named Water Polo Player of the Year by Swimming World Magazine in 2011 and steadily pushed the nation to greater heights over the past decade. With all the accolades she’s received over the years, there will always be one dream she cherished that will remain unfulfilled.

It seems a cruel and abrupt end to an illustrious international career, but in the life of an athlete, Father Time is a constant whose reality has only been accelerated by a global pandemic.


Alogbo was named player of the year by Swimming World Magazine in 2011. (Reuters)

Discovery

In Italy they call her Il Coccodrillo, which translates to the crocodile: ferocious, powerful, and always ready to pounce. She has only been there the past couple of years, but the traits with which she began the pursuit of a water polo career are the ones that hold true to this day.

“All my kids have been very athletic,” Simone, Alogbo’s mother, said about her three sons and two daughters who she raised as a single mother in Montreal working as a credit manager. “The boys were really good and they played soccer – she’s also very good at soccer, by the way. If they ever had to pick between her and any boy, they would pick her, they never feared picking her and they were older than her. To them, she was one of the boys.”

Alogbo developed a love for water polo right from when she began playing at the age of eight, providing early signs of the aggressive, energetic, and vocal leader she would become. Always looking to make an impression, she quickly began training at CAMO — a water polo club for Canada’s best in Montreal. The senior national team used to train there as well, and so she soaked in all she could as they prepped to qualify for the first-ever women’s water polo Olympic event in 2000.

Signing up for every event possible as a goal judge or ball girl to be as close as possible to the action and to stars such as Sandra Lize and Cora Campbell, Alogbo made a point of being the first one there and the last one to leave. She grabbed every opportunity to absorb lessons from the players, but it was the teachings of Daniel Berthelette that guided her from passion and raw talent to the complete player.


Krystina Alogbo, middle left, appears with her childhood swim team, made up of siblings and cousins. (Courtesy Alogbo family)

‘Born to play this game’

Regarded as one of Canada’s great coaches in the sport, Berthelette was a former head coach of the Canadian women’s team and led them to qualification in 2000, won gold at the ’99 Pan Am Games, and silver at the ’91 world championships, not to mention several national championships with CAMO. He had a gut feeling about Alogbo from the first time he saw her and so when things weren’t easy, he made sure to fight for her.

“When she was young, I told her mom, ‘Your daughter was born to play this game,'” Berthelette said.

In 2001 and 2002, Alogbo had a bit of a struggle connecting with some of the coaches on the junior national team. They didn’t take kindly to her strong personality, but Berthelette fought to convince them that it was all part of what made her tick and would also help the Canadian team find a new level.

“We had to sell that that personality she had could put a gold medal around the neck of the coach,” Berthelette said. “You saw right away that her game sense was there at a very, very young age. These are the type of athletes when you coach as long as I did, they’re born once every 10 years.”

These are the type of athletes when you coach as long as I did, they’re born once every 10 years.– Daniel Berthelette

Alogbo was demanding of herself from a young age and so did the same of everyone around her. Perhaps that wasn’t for everyone, and Patrick Oaten, a former head coach of Canada, was the man who needed some convincing. Fortunately, Berthelette’s words proving prophetic would be all the convincing he’d need.

Alogbo was a girl possessed at the junior world championships in Calgary in 2003, scoring at will and playing her best when it mattered most. After a strong team performance against Spain in the semifinals, Alogbo virtually single-handedly kept Canada in the hunt for gold against the U.S., scoring all three Canadian goals to stay level in regulation. With nothing left to separate the two sides, it was a shootout that would be the difference, where Alogbo converted the winning shot. MVP was a foregone conclusion, but Alogbo’s lasting memory from the tournament is what everyone around her, including the fans, made her feel.

“Right then, the country made us feel like we were already at the Olympic Games,” Alogbo said. “We were at a high level where it didn’t feel like it was just a junior worlds. When you look back as a 35-year-old you say, okay, junior worlds and senior worlds are completely different, but at that moment, the whole community, all of Canada did not make us feel like it was just a junior worlds …

“Winning against the Americans and everyone jumping in [the pool]. All the staff, the subs, the alternates, the three coaches including my mentor, Dan, they were all in the water. I think that was the best feeling knowing exactly what it meant. It wasn’t one person that won, it was all these people in the water that made this moment happen.”


Daniel Berthelette, then coach of the team, joins the celebration in the pool after the team defeated the U.S. to win gold at the 1999 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Decision

That was the perfect beginning and after all the personal accolades and team accomplishments along the way, Alogbo’s international career looked set for the perfect ending as well. After bitter disappointments in failing to qualify for the Olympics in 2008, 2012 and 2016, Tokyo was set to be the last stop after Canada claimed their spot with a silver medal at the 2019 Pan Am Games.

The last time Canada’s women qualified for the showcase event was 2004, but her passion for the Olympics stemmed from hours upon hours sitting and watching everything from the opening ceremony to the different competitions to the closing ceremony with her mother. Simone can remember her daughter had “Olympian” as her dream accomplishment in her high school yearbook. It’s all she’s ever wanted within the prism of her athletic career.

“The word ‘Olympic’ to me started way before even knowing what sport I chose,” Alogbo said. “I was a kid and my mom is like the biggest fan of the Olympic Games. Her favourite is the opening ceremonies, from the get-go she’s all about it. We were mainly watching the Winter Olympics at that time because I know figure skating was a big one that my mom loves to watch.

“We were always glued to the TV when the Olympics were on and also the Summer Games, I remember all the names like Donovan (Bailey). My mom made us passionate about those games.”

The little kid inside her yearned for the moment, but the world and Alogbo’s body said no. In February last year, Alogbo was already confronted with the consequences of the pandemic as Italy was one of the countries hardest hit. She had to fly out to Montreal for training camp with the national team – after initial plans to train in Hungary were scrapped – not knowing what to expect and left behind everything, including her beloved 11-year-old Yorkshire chihuahua.


Emma Wright is one of the young stars of Canada’s team who says she is grateful for her opportunity to learn from Alogbo. (Associated Press)

Something wasn’t quite right

She got home before North America felt its first COVID-19 reverberations, and the first ripple toward retirement soon followed. With the chance to be back home and spend time with family, Alogbo made dinner plans with Berthelette. Her mentor for more than two decades, he could tell something wasn’t quite right and this was going to be more than a belated celebration of her birthday.

After a long day of helping her mother, Alogbo and Berthelette decided to unwind the best way they knew how. They went to the Boston Pizza in Anjou, Que., around 8 p.m. at night, had a round of beers, uncorked a bottle of wine, checked in on each other’s health, both mental and physical, reminisced about old results accomplished together, and what the future may bring. And that’s when Alogbo let out a bombshell: On the verge of making her Olympic debut after 15 years representing the nation at the highest level, three herniated discs in her neck had her contemplating retirement.

“Knowing that I hurt myself badly with my neck and having a hard time to grasp all that, and having a hard time seeing my lasting until the end of July,” Alogbo said about what led to the discussion. “That point was a very crucial moment for my family, lots of things happened and he was there for me, he’s always been like a father to me.”

Berthelette detailed the decisions he made over the course of his life and true to his straight-shooting style, asked honestly about how seriously Alogbo had thought about life beyond her playing career. She admitted she hadn’t given it too much thought but knew that having a “normal life” was a desire, being able to walk up the stairs or just go to sleep at night without her hands going numb. Berthelette’s advice was to weigh the pros and cons of everything and write it down.

Knowing that I hurt myself badly with my neck … and having a hard time seeing my lasting until the end of July.– Krystina Alogbo on her decision

“Once you finish writing everything down, your mind is going to be clear because when you just think, think, think, it’s not the same,” Berthelette said. “It’s easier for you as a human being. Measure everything because one day when you wake up you’ll regret over things you didn’t think of before.”

Their conversation lasted into the early morning, and Alogbo came away thinking she had what it took to keep battling for another seven months. She spoke with national team doctors at the camp, spoke with her CSS Verona’s doctors when she came back, got MRIs done and received three cortisone shots to her neck. There was a shoulder problem as well, but the hope was that addressing the neck would help all around, but the other challenge was that returning to Verona where a lockdown was in place meant that she was rehabbing on her own. There was guidance from trainers on what she needed to do and her roommate would try to help out, but the makeshift rehab certainly made recovery more difficult.

Then in March, the Canadian Olympic Committee announced it would not send athletes to Tokyo if the Olympics weren’t postponed by at least a year. Her dream was quickly unravelling but Alogbo – having seen what some of her teammates in Verona were forced to contend with – understood what was happening around her rightly took precedent.

“The fact that Canada was the first of all nations to do that, I think showed a lot of strength and unity for the world crisis,” Alogbo said. “I was proud, because usually Canada just follows into big movements like that. It’s a weird thing to say, I was proud for that movement. I had friends here [Italy], they were going through a lot of drastic things and grandparents, people dying and just their country being so demoralized and locked down and all that. Just seeing the struggles in the world, it was bigger than just us and our own big dreams.”

The eventual postponement of the Olympics by a year crystallized what Alogbo needed to do. In August, she went to the ranch in Montreal where the national team trains with her mind made up and some members of the team already aware of what was coming. After a morning practice, the team was together for a meeting discussing philosophies of the team when Alogbo let them know they would be without their longest-serving member and would need a new captain for the Olympics.


Alogbo is now a player/coach with CSS Verona in Italy. (Getty Images)

“Emotion, tears, hugs – from her teammates and her,” head coach David Paradelo said about the team’s reaction. “I shared, I shed a tear, too. She’s not only been a part of the program, she’s built the program. She’s been a builder in this adventure and it’s sad when you see someone go.”

Paradelo has seen the rise of Alogbo firsthand. He was one of those boys who competed with and against her when he was around eight years old and she was a year younger. They got to know each other better around the age of 12, played together at CAMO until about the ages of 14 (competition was co-ed until then) and had the privilege of coaching her while also being able to lean on her leadership and captaincy. With that tightly knit relationship, it wasn’t a total surprise when he found out Alogbo decided her time was up.

“It was a shock in that you always hope it’s not going to happen,” Paradelo said. “You also hope for the best for each and every athlete and at that point in time that was the better option for Krys in terms of her physical and mental health.”

Legacy

A superstar’s legacy is often defined by leaving the sport in a better place than where it was when they first arrived, and a big part of why Alogbo feels some comfort in making her departure from the international scene is seeing the current crop of talent that’s ready to take Canadian women’s water polo forward. Young stars like Elyse Lemay-Lavoie and Emma Wright have emerged to play key roles in helping the side qualify for the Olympics, and while both have been presented the challenge of filling the void left by Alogbo by playing the centre forward position now, Wright has had to transition from the left side of the pool.

“We have a lot of shooters, a lot of great shooters,” Alogbo said. “But when the tough gets going, you gotta get some people playing in the centre, the hole as we call it. It was a lot of, ‘Listen, you gotta push through it, push through the pain, fight harder,’ and they worked hard. They’re ready for it, I know they sometimes underestimate themselves, but who doesn’t at that age?”

Wright’s first interaction with Alogbo came as a 13-year-old at her first national team tryout in the summer of 2011. Hoping to make the junior Pan American team, the senior team was also in the building preparing for the world championships and their pool times had aligned for a scrimmage. Alogbo guarded Wright at one point, and like any inexperienced athlete, Wright was terrified and consumed by how little she knew compared to the face of the senior team.

WATCH | Alogbo and Canadian team vs Netherlands:

Watch coverage of the 2019 World Aquatic Championships Gwangju, South Korea. 1:06:50

It wasn’t long, though, before the two were on the same side as Wright – a teenage star herself – joined the senior team a couple of years later. At 16, she was the youngest member of the 2013 world championships senior squad and became a fixture thereafter. With the added experience under her belt and now being able to observe and learn from Alogbo on a regular basis, Wright could genuinely appreciate everything Alogbo brought to the table.

“I realized that Krys was just a very, very smart player, she just had a really amazing sense for the game,” Wright said. “Not only was she strong and fast, she had very good game awareness and that was pretty impressive for me to see.”

Wright – naturally left-handed – saw herself as more of a driver and favoured playing out wide, thinking it helped the team that she could change passing patterns and present a different challenge to the goalie with her handedness at that position. But Alogbo saw a different future for her, letting Wright know from the very beginning of their association that a time would come for her to play centre forward. Until her retirement, Alogbo was the only senior team captain Wright knew, and true to the leader Alogbo has been, she was there to help Wright understand the demands of the role.

“Especially during the beginning when I was starting to transition more into playing that role,” Wright said of Alogbo’s guidance. “She was definitely there to correct me and give me pointers here and there. She’s done that for a long time for Elyse. She’s kind of been Elyse’s mentor and been there to help her along the way so when I transitioned to that role she was definitely there for me. I’ve always looked up to her but definitely as a centre – she was the best centre in the world at one point. You obviously want this person to give you as much of that information and experience as they can.”


Alogbo loved the camaraderie of the team. (Reuters)

Future

The early days of the national team practising without Alogbo took some getting used to and, with a lack of competition because of travel restrictions, they can’t yet be sure of where they stack up without her. Knowing there’s no going back, though, the team has steadily continued to adapt and move forward as best they can.

If there is one thing they hope to carry forward from the Alogbo days it’s partying just as hard as they play. Whether it be teammates, coaches, or family, Alogbo has always made a point of making others feel special. When health and safety restrictions are such that a proper celebration can be had for Alogbo and her career, they intend on ensuring it happens.

“She’s big about celebrating,” Paradelo said. “She’s invited the team to her house so many times, she made sure that every chance, every birthday, even if we weren’t together on that given day, we celebrated at some point in time before or after.

“Krystina showed how to appreciate life, how to appreciate the moments you’re spending on the road with your teammates, how to spend the moments that you’re at home and that you’re still able to be with your teammates as family or friends, not just co-workers.”

The time has come for Alogbo to appreciate even more of the lighter side of life, like her new dog Enzo, a Lagotto she picked up in light of the international retirement that made her realize she’d have time to care for two dogs while still getting a feel for coaching. Throw in spending more time with family and hobbies like soccer, volleyball, wind surfing and yoga and it’s a start to acclimatizing to life without Team Canada.

Is Alogbo completely comfortable with the idea yet? She’s getting there.

“Just being with my family, being there for them and also them giving me that approval was huge,” Alogbo said. “My sister saying, ‘You’ll always be our Olympic champion no matter what’ and my mom and her saying to leave it to the younger ones because I have six nieces and nephews made all the difference.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | Sports News

Canada, Honduras off to semifinals after draw at CONCACAF Olympic qualifier

Canada is moving on to the semifinals at the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship after battling Honduras to a 1-1 draw on Thursday.

Defender Derek Cornelius put the Canadians (1-0-2) on the board with a diving header in the 28th minute.

Honduras (1-0-2) was quick to respond, with Denil Maldonado getting a shot past Canada’s goaltender James Pantemis in the 30th minute.

Pantemis put in another solid performance, stopping eight on-target shots on the night. Canada’s lone on-target shot was Cornelius’ goal.

The result means Canada finishes second in Group B and will face Mexico (3-0-0) in the semifinals on Sunday.

Honduras ends the round-robin stage atop Group B on goal differential and will face the United States (2-0-1) in the other semifinal.

WATCH | Canada, Honduras play to a draw:

Derek Cornelius scores for Canada in their 1-1 tie with Honduras at CONCACAF men’s Olympic qualifying championship. The Canadians will face Mexico in the semifinals. 1:21

The semis will determine which two countries represent North and Central America and the Caribbean in Tokyo this summer.

Patrick Metcalfe sent the Canadian captain a crisp pass just outside the six-yard box and Cornelius drilled a header over Barrios’ gloves for a 1-0 lead.

The cushion didn’t last long, however.

Two minutes later, Honduran captain Maldonado registered the equalizer. Pantemis came off his line to challenge and Maldonado popped a header of his own into the Canadian goal.

It was the first goal Pantemis has conceded in the tournament. The CF Montreal netminder earned clean sheets in Canada’s scoreless draw with Haiti on Monday and in its 2-0 win over El Salvador on March 19.

Honduras out chanced the Canadians across the first half Thursday with four on-target shots and a great chance off the post.

Pantemis was forced to stretch out for a diving stop in the 45th minute when Jose Reyes unleashed a blast from the top of the penalty box.

Honduras nearly got a go-ahead goal in the 54th minute.

This time, Reyes sent a cross to Juan Carlos Obregon in the box and Obregon put a header up and over the bar.

The first caution of the night came in the 67th minute when Honduran midfielder Kevin Arriaga was shown the yellow card for a hard tackle. The warning was his second of the tournament so he will miss the semifinals on Sunday.

Metcalfe got a yellow a minute later for grabbing the jersey of Edwin Rodriguez. It was the midfielder’s first caution of the qualifiers.

Cornelius appeared to suffer an injury in the 72nd minute and sat on the field for several moments before going off with the trainers. He gave the captain’s armband to Pantemis before being replaced by Lucas Dias.

Canada got a late chance with a long free kick in injury time. Ryan Rapposo delivered the ball to the top of the penalty box but the Canadians couldn’t do anything with it before the final whistle sounded.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | Soccer News

Canada frustrated by tough Haitian defence in Olympic men’s soccer qualifying

Two games into the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship and Canada has yet to concede a goal.

But after defeating El Salvador 2-0 in its opening match, its offence stalled Monday in a 0-0 tie with Haiti. The young Canadians dominated possession in the first half but lost their way in the second half as the Haitians came alive.

Canada (1-0-1) needed a strong second-half performance from goalkeeper James Pantemis, who did not have to make a save in the first 45 minutes.

“The first half we were able to control the tempo of the game. We created some good opportunities,” said Canada coach Mauro Biello. “We didn’t take our chances in the first half.

WATCH | Canada’s James Pantemis makes a spectacular save against Haiti:

James Pantemis made a big save in the 72nd minute, as Canada and Haiti played to a goalless draw at the CONCACAF men’s Olympic qualifying championship in Guadalajara, Mexico. 0:36

“In the second half we got a little too loose and in different moments they caught us in transition. We needed to be tighter, better.”

El Salvador (0-1-1) did Canada a favour later Monday, rallying for a 1-1 tie against Honduras (1-0-1).

All-important Honduran clash 

Canada faces Honduras on Thursday with the winner taking first place in Group B. A tie would send both teams into the semifinals.

While the two teams are currently both on four points, Honduras has the edge over Canada in goal difference (plus-three compared to plus-two).

The eight-country CONCACAF tournament, originally scheduled for last March but postponed due to the pandemic, will determine which two teams will represent North and Central America and the Caribbean at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

The top two in each group advance to the semifinals, crossing over with No. 1 playing No. 2 in the other group and vice versa. The semifinal winners book their ticket to Tokyo.

Canada fails to take advantage

The U.S. and Mexico both improved to 2-0-0 with wins Sunday in Group A play, ensuring they qualify for the semifinals. The two meet Wednesday to decide who tops the group.

Honduras, which blanked Haiti 3-0 in its opener, has made it to the last two Olympics. The Canadian men have not taken part since the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

The Hondurans (1-0-0) played El Salvador (0-1-0) in the late game Monday.

“We’re at four points right now,” said Biello. “For sure we could be disappointed not to take the three [points] but at the same time we’ve got to learn and we’ve got to continue to grow from here.”

The Canadians pressed as the clock wound down and had several set pieces but failed to take advantage. Haiti goalkeeper Alan Jerome made a game-saving save with his foot on substitute Ballou Tabla on a Canadian counter-attack sparked by speedy winger Tajon Buchanan in stoppage time.


It was 30 degree Celsius for the 4 p.m. local time kickoff at an empty Estado Akron, which hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2011 Pan American Games.

Haiti (0-1-1) showed its hand early, often stacking 11 men behind the ball in its own half in a defensive block. The Canadians penned the Haitians in their own end early and Jerome used his body to deny Buchanan from in-close in the 13th minute after a fine feed by fullback Zachary Brault-Guillard.

Haiti offered little the few times it did venture into Canadian territory with the ball.

Canada captain Derek Cornelius’ header off a corner was off-target in the 30th minute, his aim no doubt hampered by the Haiti defender clutching a handful of his jersey.

WATCH | Canada’s path to Tokyo:

Signa Butler is joined by John Molinaro of CPL.ca and Joshua Kloke of The Athletic to talk about Canada’s roster challenges, strengths and what they need to do to grab one of two spots for Tokyo 6:43

Canada started looking to put balls behind the Haiti defence, with a pair of attacks denied by the offside flag late in the first half. At the other end, Pantemis did not have to make a save in the first 45 minutes.

A Buchanan free kick from a dangerous position just outside the penalty box went high in the 49th minute.

Haiti had a brief spurt of offence and Pantemis, finally called into action, had to be sharp to deny Dutherson Clerveaux in the 56th minute.

Jerome stopped Buchanan’s header in the 62nd minute off a dangerous free kick from Michael Baldisimo. At the other end, Pantemis was almost caught out by Eliader Dorlus’s swerving shot from long range.

Haiti came close again in the 71st minute after a poor touch defensively but the shot went straight at Pantemis. The Canadian ‘keeper made his best save of the game a minute later to stop Clerveaux’s diving header.

Buchanan scored both goals in Friday’s win over El Salvador.

WATCH | Canada shuts out El Salvador:

Tajon Buchanan made an impressive international debut, scoring twice as Canada opened play at the CONCACAF men’s Olympic qualifying championship in Guadalajara, Mexico with a 2-0 win over El Salvador. 3:14

Haiti had a more chaotic start to the tournament in a 3-0 loss to Honduras the same day. It was forced to kick off with just 10 men on the pitch including an outfield player in goal after part of its delegation arrived late in Guadalajara, delaying some COVID-19 protocols. The team was able to get to full strength in the second half after tests came back negative.

Haiti had just five players on its bench Monday, with no backup ‘keepers.

Biello made two changes to his starting lineup with David Norman Jr., and Theo Bair coming in for Callum Montgomery and Tabla. Montgomery was injured in the first game against El Salvador and was replaced by Norman at halftime.

The tournament is open to players born after Jan. 1, 1997. Teams that make it to the Olympics can field up to three overage players.

CONCACAF reported prior to Monday’s game that two members of its officials pool had tested positive for COVID-19 and were self-isolating. Costa Rica’s Juan Gabriel Calderon took charge of Canada’s match.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | Soccer News

Olympic swimmer Brent Hayden taking ‘wait and see’ approach to vaccines before Games

If he qualifies for this summer’s Olympic Games, Canadian swimmer Brent Hayden would prefer to receive a COVID-19 vaccination before arriving in Tokyo.

That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t go without getting his jab. He also isn’t sure if he would use the vaccine being offered to Olympic athletes as part of a recent partnership announced by the International Olympic Committee and China.

“I think that would be something I have to talk to my coach about, to figure out what we think is going to be the best decision,” said Hayden, who won a bronze medal in the 100-metre freestyle at the 2012 London Olympics.

“I do want to be vaccinated, I want to be covered at the Olympics. I don’t want to catch it and spread it. Now whether or not that’s the China one … I’m just going to have to wait to see what my coach or what Swimming Canada recommends.”

In the recently announced agreement, the IOC entered into a partnership with the Chinese Olympic committee to buy and provide vaccines for people participating in the Tokyo Games and next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing.

None of the Chinese vaccines are approved for use in Canada.

In a statement, the Canadian Olympic Committee said it would prefer Canadian athletes use Health Canada approved vaccines.

“Our strong preference is that any vaccine a Canadian athlete receives has been approved by Health Canada,” COC boss David Shoemaker said in a statement.

“The COC will continue to follow Health Canada guidelines and the recommendations of our chief medical officer and the return to sport task force for all matters relating to the health and safety of Team Canada.”

WATCH | Should Olympians cut in line for vaccine?:

Some athletes say they want to wait their turn. 2:20

A Swimming Canada spokesman said they are encouraging athletes to follow the COC guidelines.

At least one Olympic expert said he isn’t surprised the by the IOC’s decision to buy vaccines or that they are being purchased from China.

Michael Naraine, an assistant professor with Brock University’s department of sport, said IOC president Thomas Bach has pushed for the Tokyo Games to go ahead, even though concerns remain about COVID-19.

“They weren’t going to force athletes to take the vaccine, but they wanted to do everything they could to ensure health and safety,” said Naraine, who studies major games and the Olympic movement.

“It’s not surprising that China would be the place where they were able to procure them. The supply chains are really tight now when you’re thinking about all the different countries that are trying to procure. When you think about scale in the supply chain, China’s clearly the top dog.”

WATCH | Why a COVID-19 vaccine isn’t the key to a fair Olympics:

Jacqueline Doorey speaks with Canadian middle distance runner Gabriela DeBues-Stafford to discuss the COVID-19 vaccine, how it can affect the Olympics, and whether athletes deserve to cut the line. 5:51

The IOC is also “very bullish on China” considering it’s hosting next year’s Winter Games and some of the major sponsors that comes with that, he said.

While athletes in some countries may be hesitant over the IOC’s offer, for others it might be their best chance to access the vaccine.

“If I’m an athlete in a country which has a very heavy strain on health care and the public health system, you’re looking at this as jumping the global queue as far as vaccination and inoculation is concerned,” said Naraine.

Wrestler Erica Weibe, a gold medallist at the 2016 Rio Games, supports more athletes having access to the vaccine.

It would be great if the IOC’s partnership “can help athletes and citizens of countries with less robust vaccination plans than Canada,” the Stittsville, Ont., native told The Canadian Press last week.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised that every Canadian adult who wants a vaccine will be able to receive a shot by the end of September.

In B.C., where Hayden lives, his age group is scheduled to receive their first round of the vaccine in May or June.

The Tokyo Games, which have been delayed a year due to COVID-19, are scheduled to open July 23.

Hayden, who retired after the London Games but decided to make a comeback for Tokyo, said not being vaccinated won’t stop him from competing.

“My goal is to go to the Olympics,” he said. “If I’m vaccinated or not vaccinated, I’m planning on going until they tell me I can’t go.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | Sports News

Watch Road to the Olympic Games: World Cup alpine skiing

Alpine Skiing·Live

Watch Road to the Olympic Games, our weekly program spotlighting the best high-performance athletes from Canada and around the world. On this week’s edition of the program, watch action from the alpine skiing World Cup stop in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

Coverage continues on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET

Watch some of the best skiers in the world compete in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. 0:00

Click on the video player above to watch Road to the Olympic Games, our weekly program spotlighting the best high-performance athletes from Canada and around the world.

On this week’s edition of the program, tune in to watch action from the alpine skiing World Cup stop in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

Coverage continues on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET with the women’s slalom.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | Sports News

Canadian men open Olympic soccer qualifier with win over El Salvador

Sparked by Tajon Buchanan’s two early goals, Canada opened play at the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship with an impressive 2-0 win over El Salvador on Friday.

While there were a few shaky moments at the back, the Canadian under-24 side looked good against a physical El Salvador side. Canada moved the ball quickly and showed teeth in attack.

The performance was all the more commendable given eight of Canada’s starters are with MLS clubs and so just starting their pre-season.

“I’m happy with the results,” said Canada coach Mauro Biello. “It was tough for the boys in terms of the fitness of this group. But I’m very proud of the way they fought, the way they were able to hurt the other team in moments, and closed out the game.

“What I said to them is we’re going to grow throughout this tournament. It’s normal. Some players had met for the first time.”

WATCH | Canada shuts out El Salvador:

Tajon Buchanan made an impressive international debut, scoring twice as Canada opened play at the CONCACAF men’s Olympic qualifying championship in Guadalajara, Mexico with a 2-0 win over El Salvador. 3:14

The eight-country tournament will decide which two teams represent the region, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean, at the Tokyo Olympics. The qualifier was originally scheduled for last March but was postponed due to the pandemic.

The Canadian men last made it to the Olympics in 1984 in Los Angeles where they lost to Brazil in a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals.

Canada continues Group B play against Haiti on Monday and Honduras next Wednesday. Group A opened play Thursday with the U.S. defeating Costa Rica 1-0 and Mexico beating the Dominican Republic 4-1.

The top two in each group advance to the semifinals with the winners booking their tickets to Tokyo.

Buchanan, who is entering his third season with the New England Revolution, made his presence felt early. A live wire blessed with pace and a deep bag of tricks, he turned heads in MLS last year when he led all Canadians with 23 regular-season appearances — some at fullback.

“Everybody will see the two goals but coaches will look at the work that he does,” said Biello. “The way he tracked back in the 90th minute, for me, was quite impressive.

“He’s a player that’s just growing. He had a good season last year in New England, came into camp with the men’s [senior] team in January [and] showed his qualities. And now today he was focused to show what he could do and he was able to get those two great goals. And again the work that he puts in for the team is excellent.”

WATCH | Canada’s path to Tokyo:

Signa Butler is joined by John Molinaro of CPL.ca and Joshua Kloke of The Athletic to talk about Canada’s roster challenges, strengths and what they need to do to grab one of two spots for Tokyo 6:43

The 22-year-old winger from Brampton, Ont., opened the scoring in the 17th minute, capping a rapid-fire attack that saw Ballou Tabla find Buchanan in space near the edge of the El Salvador penalty box. The speedy Buchanan beat defender Kevin Menjivar and slotted his left-footed shot from a tight angle through goalkeeper Mario Gonzalez’s legs.

Buchanan scored again four minutes later, this time with a rocket of a shot through traffic. A Canadian free kick landed at the feet of Derek Cornelius in the El Salvador penalty box and the Canada captain calmly laid the ball back to Buchanan, who hammered it home with his right foot from just outside the box.

Buchanan, named Canada Soccer’s Youth International Player of the Year in 2020, celebrated with an equally impressive double-somersault. A kneeling Cornelius then mimed giving him a shoeshine.

Buchanan is the 12th Canadian to score twice in a CONCACAF men’s Olympic qualifier — and the first since Tosaint Ricketts in 2008.

Buchanan played provider in the 51st minute, beating a defender down the flank and the bending a perfect ball to Tabla in front of goal. But Gonzalez got his body in front of the shot.

It was 30 degrees Celsius at kickoff at the 55,000-capacity Jalisco Stadium, which was empty due to the pandemic. The Canadians also had to deal with the altitude (1,550 metres).

Honduras blanked Haiti in the earlier game. Haiti started with 10 men and an outfield player in goal because part of its delegation arrived in Guadalajara late, impacting the timing of COVID-19 testing. The team got reinforcements during the match, including a goalkeeper, after tests came back negative.

Adding to Haiti’s woes, defender Djimy Alexis was sent off in stoppage time for a second yellow card.

Biello’s starting 11 included five players who had seen action with the senior side: goalkeeper James Pantemis, defenders Zachary Brault-Guillard, Marcus Godinho and Cornelius and forwards Charles-Andreas Brym and Tabla.

The 23-year-old Cornelius has the most senior caps at 13. Pantemis and Buchanan are uncapped but have both spent time with the senior team.

Pantemis has a good game, equal to everything thrown at him. Biello called his team’s defensive efforts “a hell of a shift.”

8 MLS players in starting XI

Canada’s starting 11 featured the eight MLS players — three each from Montreal and Vancouver and one apiece from Minnesota and New England. Of the other three, one was from the USL and two from Europe.

There were six yellow cards in the game, three apiece.

Only players born in 1997 or later are eligible for Olympic qualifying (the same age limit was kept despite the qualifying tournament’s one-year delay). Countries that make it to the Olympics are allowed up to three overage players.

Canada made two late changes to its roster Friday morning.

Citing medical reasons, Canada replaced defender Thomas Meilleur-Giguere (Pacific FC, CPL) and forward Kris Twardek (Jagiellonia, Poland) with Cavalry FC defender/winger Mo Farsi and York United FC defender Diyaeddine Abzi.

While Canada Soccer did not specify the medical issues, Meilleur-Giguere said he had torn his medial collateral ligament the day before the match.

“Life is so unfair sometimes, worked so hard for that moment and boom,” he wrote in a social media post.

The departures leave Canada short at centre back, a problem that was exacerbated when Callum Montgomery left the game with an injury.

Farsi, named Best Canadian U-21 Player of the Year in the CPL in 2020, came off the bench in the 85th minute.

Mexico, which has won the last two CONCACAF qualifiers, and Honduras represented the region at the last two Olympics. Honduras was fourth at the 2016 Rio Games while Mexico defeated Brazil 2-1 to win gold in 2012 in London.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | Soccer News