Team Canada’s most memorable moments and incredible stories of 2019
2019 was a spectacular year for Canada with so many historical and record-breaking moments.
Let’s dive right in and relive the most memorable stories in Canadian sport of the past calendar year.
World Aquatics Championships go swimmingly for Canada
Canadian swimmers had their best World Aquatic Championships ever in 2019, capturing eight medals in the pool, including two gold medals, all by women.
Superstar Kylie Masse was one of six triple medallists for Canada, earning her second consecutive world title in the 100m backstroke, plus bronze medals in the 200m backstroke and 4x100m medley relay. Masse now has five career medals at the worlds, tying her with Penny Oleksiak for the most ever won by a female Canadian swimmer.
Maggie MacNeil won Canada’s second gold in the 100m butterfly, adding a couple of bronze medals in the 4x100m freestyle and the 4x100m medley relays.
Canada’s other triple-podium finishers included relay stalwarts Oleksiak, Taylor Ruck, and Rebecca Smith, as well as Sydney Pickrem, who earned individual bronzes in the 200m individual medley and 200m breaststroke.
Canada tracks down success at World Athletics Championships and beyond
Andre De Grasse led the way with a silver in the 200m and a bronze in the 100m as Canada earned five medals in Doha, Qatar.
Three more bronze medals came from Evan Dunfee in the 50km race walk, Damian Warner in the decathlon, and Mohammed Ahmed in the 5000m. Dunfee was Canada’s first ever medallist in the longest athletics event while Ahmed became the first Canadian to ever win a world championship medal in a long distance track event.
Months before the world championships, Rachel Cliff made headlines in March by breaking the Canadian record in the women’s marathon. Running in Nagoya, Japan, Cliff set a time of 2:26:56, beating Lanni Marchant’s 2013 record by over a minute.
Bianca’s meteoric rise and Grand Slam title
Bianca Andreescu was undoubtedly the story of the year in Canadian sports.
Her breakout performance came at Indian Wells in March, where she defeated Angelique Kerber en route to her first WTA tour title.
Despite missing several months due to injury, Andreescu bounced back in August to win the Rogers Cup on home soil in Toronto, becoming the first Canadian woman to win the tournament in 50 years.
Andreescu’s apex came a few weeks later at the US Open as the 19-year-old became the first Canadian to ever win a Grand Slam singles title, besting the legend Serena Williams in the final.
Andreescu rocketed up to fifth in the world after starting the season at No. 152 and was awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canadian Athlete of the Year.
Brooke Henderson breaks the Canadian record
Brooke Henderson had a record-setting year in 2019.
She kicked things off in April with her second consecutive victory at the Lotte Championship in Hawaii, marking her eighth victory on the LPGA Tour. The win tied her with Mike Weir, Sandra Post, and George Knudson for the most tour wins by a Canadian golfer.
Then with her title at the Meijer LPGA Classic in June, Henderson took over the top spot for herself, hoisting a trophy for the ninth time in her professional career. At just 22 years of age, don’t expect her to slow down any time soon.
Justin Kripps pilots Canada to two medals at bobsleigh world championships
In doing so, Kripps became just the third Canadian pilot to medal in both the two-man and four-man events at the same world championships.
Canada actually hit the podium in all three bobsleigh events, as Christine de Bruin and brakeman Kristen Bujnowski slid to bronze in the women’s two-man.
Kingsbury claims eighth straight Crystal Globe and two world titles
To the surprise of absolutely no one, moguls master Mikaël Kingsbury captured his eighth consecutive Crystal Globe title as the overall World Cup champion of freestyle skiing. Kingsbury topped the field in seven of the nine events on the World Cup calendar.
He maintained that dominance at the biennial world championships, capturing gold in both moguls and dual moguls.
Humana-Paredes and Pavan pair up for historic gold
Canada’s dynamic duo in beach volleyball had a career-year in 2019.
By winning the FIVB World Championships in Hamburg, Germany this past July, Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes not only claimed Canada’s first ever medal in the tournament, but also secured a qualification spot for Tokyo 2020.
Their world championship victory was just one of many highlights for the pair this year, who also won a World Tour 5-Star event in Vienna and finished the season ranked first in the world.
Deguchi and Valois-Fortier jostle for Canada at Judo World Championships
Rising star Christa Deguchi made waves for Canada with a gold medal in the -57 kg class at the judo World Championships in Tokyo. Deguchi defeated world No. 1 Tsukasa Yoshida of Japan to become Canada’s first ever world champion in judo. The victory came on the back of a strong year for Deguchi, which saw her take over top spot in the world ranking.
On the men’s side, Antoine Valois-Fortier won a bronze in the -81 kg category, his third career medal at the worlds, giving Canada one of their best showings ever.
Sinclair moves within a goal of international record
Christine Sinclair scored six times in 15 matches for Canada this year to move within one of American Abby Wambach’s record of 184 international goals. Already regarded by most as the best women’s player of all time, the record – which will inevitably come in 2020 – should further cement Sinclair’s legacy.
Sinclair’s next opportunity to break the record will come on January 29 against Saint Kitts and Nevis as part of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
If Canada does qualify for Tokyo 2020, Sinclair will once again be in the spotlight as she looks to lead the women’s national team to their third straight Olympic medal – and perhaps their first ever gold.
Teamwork makes the (Olympic) dream work
Canada had five teams qualify for Tokyo 2020 this past year.
No squad provided more drama than the men’s field hockey team. Canada was trailing 5-3 to Ireland after a loss in the first match of the two-game aggregate Olympic qualifier. Down 6-5 on aggregate in the second match, Canada was awarded a penalty stroke with no time left in regulation. Scott Tupper scored to send the match to a sudden death shootout, where Adam Froese converted the game-deciding goal to send Canada to Tokyo. Their appearance at next summer’s Games will mark the team’s first back-to-back Olympic berths since 1984 and 1988.
The men’s rugby sevens team will compete in the Olympic tournament for the first time. They cruised through the Rugby Americas North Sevens Tournament with a perfect 6-0 record to book their ticket.
The women’s team also qualified by finishing in the top-four across six tournaments in the 2018-19 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series. They’ve got an eye on bettering their bronze medal from Rio 2016.
The women’s water polo team secured their spot at Tokyo 2020 with a second-place finish at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima. The berth marks their first Olympic appearance since 2004.
Softball will make its Olympic return for the first time since 2008 so it’s only fitting that Canada, who has played at every previous installment, qualified for Tokyo. The team ensured their Olympic berth with a top-two finish at the Softball Americas Olympic Qualifier tournament in Surrey this past August.
Ellie Black leads artistic gymnastics team at Lima 2019 and beyond
You may as well call her “Miss Pan Am Games” after yet another dominant showing in Lima.
Highlighted by her historic second straight gold in the individual all-around, Ellie Black captured five medals for the second consecutive Pan American Games. Her 10 career medals made her Canada’s most decorated gymnast in Pan Ams history and she was named Canada’s flag bearer at the Closing Ceremony in honour of her achievements.
With a team silver as well as a floor exercise gold for Brooklyn Moors and vault bronze for Shallon Olsen, the team carried momentum into the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. They earned a fifth-place finish and a qualification spot at Tokyo 2020, where they’ll look to earn their first-ever Olympic medal.
Canada’s tennis takeover continues at Davis Cup Finals
Bianca Andreescu’s historic win at the US Open certainly sent shockwaves through the tennis world, showing everyone that Canada was on the upswing. That message was echoed loud and clear at the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid this November.
Led by rising star Denis Shapovalov and resilient veteran Vasek Pospisil, Canada claimed several upset victories, leading to victories over Italy, the United States, Australia and Russia, on their way to their first ever finals appearance at the Davis Cup. It was only top-ranked Spain, headlined by world No. 1 Rafael Nadal, that could end the Canadians’ miracle run.
The incredible performance demonstrated again to both our nation and the world that Canadian tennis is in good hands. 20-year-old Shapovalov displayed incredible poise and skill, ending his season ranked 15th in the world. Meanwhile 19-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime, who missed most of the tournament with an ankle injury, is the only teenager ranked in the top-50 at No. 21.
New long distance queens of the long track
Building off an impressive 2018 campaign which included her first Olympic appearance, long track speed skater Isabelle Weidemann cemented herself among the world’s elite in 2019.
At the Canadian Championships in October, she timed 6:47.34 in the 5000m to break the previous national record held since 2006 by the legendary Cindy Klassen. She followed up with a World Cup gold in the 3000m.
Teammate Ivanie Blondin has looked unstoppable this fall, recording five individual victories, including two mass starts and one each in the 1500m, 3000m, and 5000m.
Canada conquers world championships
Canadian athletes were all over the world – and the podium – in 2019.
Winnipeg native Skylar Park announced herself on the global stage this past May at the World Taekwondo Championships, winning bronze in the women’s 57kg weight class. Undefeated through her first three rounds, Park was bested only by world No. 1 Jade Jones of Great Britain. That result would play a big part in her earning Olympic qualification.
The 20-year-old later added a silver medal at Pan Am Games in the 57kg class.
The diving duo of Jennifer Abel and Melissa Citrini-Beaulieu took home a silver medal at the World Aquatics Championships in South Korea. With the performance they also locked in their spot for Tokyo 2020 in the women’s 3m synchro event.
Two-time Olympic gold medallist Rosie MacLennan earned a bronze in women’s trampoline, which also secured an Olympic qualification spot for Canada.
Canada had an extremely fruitful World Rowing Championships, earning Olympic spots for six boats. Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens provided the highlight of the week with a bronze in the women’s pair. Also booking Olympic berths were the women’s double sculls, women’s single sculls, men’s pair, women’s four, and the women’s eight.
Unbeaten by illness: Eric Lamaze and Max Parrot
Three-time Olympic medallist Lamaze had kept quiet about his battle with a brain tumour for a year and a half before revealing the diagnosis in May. While undergoing treatment, he won back-to-back Grand Prix events at Spruce Meadows in June and posted more victories in September. Lamaze is the all-time money winner at Spruce Meadows with more than $6 million in total earnings.
Just eight months after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the end of 2018, Parrot made his return to the slopes at the X Games in Norway. The 2018 Olympic silver medallist won gold in the men’s big air event for his sixth title as X Games champion.
There were a handful of notable retirements in 2019, starting with the legendary ice dance duo of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. With five Olympic medals, three world titles, and eight national titles, Virtue and Moir retired this past September as the most decorated figure skaters of all time. Virtue remains involved with the Olympic movement through the Team Canada Champion Chats program for the 2019-20 school year.
Cross-country skier Alex Harvey celebrated his retirement by going out with a bang. In the last weekend of his competitive career, Harvey claimed a silver medal in the 15km pursuit at the World Cup Finals in his home province of Quebec. The three-time Olympian won five world championship medals, including two golds, and made 32 World Cup podiums in his career.
Sticking with the slopes, ski cross racer Kelsey Serwa announced her retirement in 2019. The 29-year-old won an Olympic gold at PyeongChang 2018, a silver at Sochi 2014, a world title, and two X Games titles.
2019 was a turnover year for short track speed skating with multiple goodbyes.
Off-ice couple Samuel Girard and Kasandra Bradette announced their retirements in March. Girard earned two medals – including Canada’s first ever 1000m gold – in his Olympic debut at PyeongChang 2018 at the age of 22. Bradette also made her Olympic debut in 2018 after having been a World Cup medallist.