Basketball player Kia Nurse will lead the Canadian team into the Closing Ceremony at the Pan Am Games.
The 19-year-old guard scored 68 points in five games including an astounding 33-point performance in Canada’s gold medal win against the United States.
The golden result is the first-ever for a women’s or men’s basketball team at a Pan American Games. The men’s team went on to win a silver to send both Canada Basketball squads to the Pan Am podium.
“Our outcome was everything and more than we could have imagined and we were so fortunate,” said Nurse, “To put this on top of it makes the Games so much more special.”
The Canadians went 3-0 in their preliminary round before cruising past Brazil 91-63 in a semifinal. It was against the United States where Nurse became unstoppable shooting 59% (10/17) from the field, hitting 11 of 12 free throws, and dropping two from downtown.
The Canadians were down by 10 after the first quarter, tied at 36 at the half and won 81-73. “I wish I could have my entire team here with me, and carry it together,” said Nurse.
“It’s such an incredible honour and I’m so proud to be from Canada” – Kia Nurse
The next tournament for Nurse and her teammates is the FIBA Americas Championship in Edmonton, starting August 9th. By winning Canada can qualify for for Rio 2016. The field is similar to TO2015, minus the United States who have already qualified for the Olympics.
“For the Olympic qualifier next I think we’re all just extremely pumped to have seen this environment and to know that we could have that again in 2016, we’re all just striving for it,” said Nurse.
It is the continuation of a championship year for the Hamilton-native, who won this year’s NCAA title with the University of Connecticut Huskies. She is another great athlete in the Nurse family; her brother Darnell is an Edmonton Oilers draft pick, her sister Tamika, mother Kathy, and Aunt Raquel all played college basketball and her father Richard is a former CFL wide receiver.
The Toronto 2015 Pan American Games Closing Ceremony begins at 8 pm ET, you can watch it on CBC.