5 Team Canada sports to watch this weekend: September 15-17
It’s an action-packed weekend for Team Canada, with Canadian athletes fighting for world titles, Olympic quota spots, and prestigious championships.
For those who got caught up in the energy around Canada’s bronze medal at the FIBA World Cup last weekend, there is more exciting basketball on the horizon. Team Canada’s women’s 3×3 team are attempting to defend their title as the FIBA 3×3 Women’s Series champions.
Team Canada wrestlers take on the world at the 2023 Wrestling World Championships, while several Canadian medallists from the recent World Athletics Championships are seeking more hardware at the Diamond League Final.
In tennis, the Canadians have some momentum at the first phase of the Davis Cup Finals, while in volleyball, the Canadian women’s national team embarks on their Olympic qualification tournament.
Here’s what you don’t want to miss this weekend:
The FIBA 3×3 Women’s Series Final is taking place in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia on Saturday and Sunday. Canada enters the tournament seeded first after a successful season that included home wins in Edmonton, Montreal and Quebec City earlier this summer. They are also the defending champions, having taken the title at last year’s Final in Constanta, Romania.
The team consisting of Michelle Plouffe, Katherine Plouffe, Paige Crozon and Kacie Bosch has the top winning percentage of all teams in the series — a remarkable 87 per cent. Both Plouffe sisters are ranked in the top three overall for player value and total points scored.
The team continues on its quest for a quota spot for Paris 2024. Canada is currently fifth in the FIBA 3×3 Federation Ranking for women. The top three countries on November 1 will qualify for the Olympic tournament. Following those allocations, there will be Olympic Qualifying Tournaments held in 2024.
Team Canada will take on the world at the 2023 Wrestling World Championships taking place September 16-24 in Belgrade, Serbia. The tournament provides Canadian wrestlers with their first opportunity to qualify quota spots for Paris 2024.
For each weight class, there are five Olympic spots available at the world championships. Those will go to the gold, silver, and two bronze medallists, plus the winner of a match between the two losers in the bronze medal bouts.
Canada is sending a team of 19 athletes to Belgrade, with 12 of them competing in Olympic weight classes. Check out the full team list here.
Justina Di Stasio is one to look out for in the women’s 76kg event. With a world championship title in 2018, a Pan Am Games title in 2019, and a Commonwealth Games title in 2022, she has ticked just about everything off her bucket list — except competing at the Olympic Games.
Di Stasio’s teammate and training partner, Ana Godinez Gonzalez, is also one to watch in the women’s 62kg event. Godinez Gonzalez was the U23 world champion in 2021 and has since claimed Commonwealth Games silver (2022), U23 world championship bronze (2022) and Pan American Championships gold (2023). Godinez Gonzalez’s sister, Karla, is the top seed in the 55kg weight class, a non-Olympic event.
On the men’s side, athletes to watch include Lachlan McNeil in the 65kg weight class and Nishan Randhawa at 97kg. Last year McNeil won Commonwealth Games silver. Randhawa secured a bronze medal at the Pan American Championships earlier this year and was the Commonwealth Games champion in 2022.
After a successful world championship showing for Team Canada, some of the country’s top athletes are stretching out their season a little bit longer to compete at the Prefontaine Classic, doubling as the 2023 Diamond League Final. The event will take place on Saturday and Sunday in Eugene, Oregon.
Coming off silver medals at both the world championships and her last Diamond League meet, Sarah Mitton will be on the hunt for another podium finish. She will compete in the women’s shot put on Saturday.
Marco Arop will seek to keep his momentum going after being crowned world champion of the men’s 800m in Budapest, followed by a silver at the Xiamen Diamond League meet shortly thereafter. He will race on Sunday.
Team Canada will field two sprinters in the men’s 200m on Sunday, Aaron Brown and Andre De Grasse. Both Brown and De Grasse ran season’s best times in their last Diamond League race in Brussels, where De Grasse took the bronze medal, with Brown behind him in fourth.
The Group Stage of the 2023 Davis Cup Finals, the world’s biggest men’s team tennis competition, runs into the weekend. As the reigning champions following last year’s historic victory, Canada was automatically qualified for the Finals. Represented this week by Vasek Pospisil, Denis Shapovalov, Alexis Galarneau, Gabriel Diallo and Kelsey Stevenson, Canada is in Group A, based in Bologna, Italy.
Canada opened up the Group Stage on Wednesday against the host nation and delivered some huge upsets. Galarneau, currently ranked 200th in the world, defeated 38th-ranked Lorenzo Sonego 7-6 (8), 6-4. This was the 24-year-old Canadian’s first Davis Cup singles victory.
In the second singles match, Diallo, who is ranked 158th, defeated world No. 18 Lorenzo Musetti 7-5, 6-4. To close the tie, Galarneau teamed up with Pospisil for the doubles match, which the Canadians won 6(4)-7, 6-4, 7-6(3) over the Italian duo of Matteo Arnaldi and Simone Bolelli.
Canada then took on Sweden on Thursday. Pospisil kept the winning ways going with a three-set victory over Leo Borg, 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-2. Diallo followed up with straight sets win (6-4, 6-3) over Elias Ymer. Pospisil and Galarneau finished off another perfect day with a 7-6 (9), 7-6 (3) win in the doubles.
Canada will close out the Group Stage against Chile on Saturday. The 16 teams in the Finals were divided into four groups of four, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the quarterfinals of the knockout round in November.
Canada is taking aim at qualifying for the Olympic women’s volleyball tournament for the first time in almost three decades. This weekend kicks off a trio of Olympic Qualifying Tournaments being held concurrently in China, Japan, and Poland from September 16 to 24.
Canada is in Pool A, based in Ningbo, China. Over nine days, they’ll play a round robin against Netherlands (Sept. 16), Dominican Republic (Sept. 17), Serbia (Sept. 18), China (Sept. 20), Ukraine (Sept. 22), Mexico (Sept. 23) and Czechia (Sept. 24). The top two teams in the pool will earn their spots at Paris 2024.
Canada heads in ranked 11th in the world. In their pool, Serbia (3), China (6), Netherlands (9), and the Dominican Republic (10) are currently ranked ahead of them. But the Canadians have done their best to shed the underdog label this year. At the Volleyball Nations League in June, Canada defeated Serbia, the reigning world champions, as well as world No. 4 Brazil and the Netherlands.
Canada last competed in the women’s Olympic volleyball tournament at Atlanta 1996.