Erica Wiede celebrates with fans at Rio 2016COC Photo/David Jackson
COC Photo/David Jackson

Getting to know Canada’s Tokyo 2020 hopefuls

Contributors to this story include: Hope Blackmore, Chris Faria, Catalina Gillies, Camille Laventure, Chloe Morrison, and Arshi Sidhu.

How well do you know some of Team Canada’s Tokyo 2020 hopefuls?

As we gear up for the upcoming Olympic Games, let’s take the time to know who Team Canada athletes are outside of the field of play. Are they aspiring artists? A new parent? Dabbling in another sport during their free time?

Every Friday, we’ll be adding a new athlete to this list that you can follow on social media. If you do, in no time you’ll be an expert on Canadian athletes and ready to cheer them on as they compete on the international stage.

Rosie MacLennan

Follow this back-to-back Olympic champ on Twitter and Instagram.

Getting introduced to gymnastics at 8-years-old, Rosie MacLennan won Canada’s only gold medal at London 2012. She performed the most difficult routine of the competition to earn a career-high score of 57.305 points for Canada’s first-ever Olympic trampoline gold medal. MacLennan made history at Rio 2016 when she became the first trampolinist to ever win back-to-back Olympic gold medals.

Rosie MacLennan pictured with the Canadian flag after successfully defending her trampoline gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. (COC photo/Jason Ransom)

MacLennan is a graduate of the University of Toronto currently pursuing her masters in Exercise Science. She also enjoys snowboarding, skiing, and wakeboarding when she doesn’t find herself preparing for her fourth Olympic Games. MacLennan is the Vice-Chair of Team Canada’s Athletes’ Commission.

Sean McColl

Follow this Tokyo bound athlete on Twitter and Instagram.

Being a self-proclaimed “natural born climber”, Sean McColl’s Olympic dreams became possible during the summer of 2016 when it was announced that sport climbing was officially added to the Olympic programme for Tokyo 2020. As president of the IFSC’s Athletes’ Commission since 2012, McColl advocated for his sport by making multiple presentations to the IOC, hoping it would lead to sport climbing’s inclusion at the Olympic Games. McColl secured his spot to Tokyo with a 10th place finish in the combined event at the 2019 IFSC World Championships.

READ: Sean McColl tells first time fans what to watch for in Olympic sport climbing

Sean McColl competes in lead climbing

Sean McColl competes during the men’s lead at the indoor World Climbing Championships on September 15, 2016 in Paris. (MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

As of February 2020, McColl has earned 34 World Cup medals, with the majority in lead climbing, followed by bouldering. McColl also loves to challenge himself with unique workouts that he shares on his social accounts for anyone who wants to spice up their workout routines!

Claudia Holzner

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Looking to make her Olympic debut in Tokyo, Claudia Holzner was 8-years-old when she had her first artistic swimming lesson and has been hooked ever since. Holzner has competed in the team event for Canada at the Toronto 2015 and Lima 2019 Pan American Games winning gold both times.  In 2017, Holzer began partnering with Jacqueline Simoneau in the duet event and together they secured gold in Lima.

Claudia Holzner and Jacqueline Simoneau of Canada perform in the synchronized swimming duet

Claudia Holzner and Jacqueline Simoneau of Canada perform in the synchronized swimming duet of FINA Artistic Swimming World Series Super Final in Duna Arena in Budapest, Hungary, Friday, June 14, 2019. (Tibor Illyes/MTI via AP)

When she’s not in the pool testing out new tricks and pushing to see how long she can hold her breath, you can usually find Holzner cooking and making some do-it-yourself projects as well as hiking, skiing, and crafting. One of her favourite mottos is “she believed she could so she did”.

Aaron Brown

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Known affectionately as Kingsley, AB and Smoov, Aaron Brown is looking to book his ticket to Tokyo to compete in his third Olympic Games. He represented Team Canada at London 2012 and Rio 2016. In Rio, he was a member of the bronze medal winning 4x100m relay team, alongside Andre De Grasse, Akeem Haynes, Brendon Rodney, and Bolade Ajomale. The squad set a national record time of 37.64 seconds. Before the Games, in June 2016, Brown became the fourth Canadian man to break the 10-second barrier in the 100m, running a 9.96.

Aaron Brown with Canadian flag on his back

Canada’s Aaron Brown drapes himself in the Canadian flag after crossing the finish line ahead of Barbados’ Jaquone Hoyte on the anchor leg to secure a gold medal in the men’s 4×100 metre relay during the NACAC Championships in Toronto on Sunday, August 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Brown is an avid shoe collector and started 2020 off with a beautiful waterfront wedding. A motto he lives by is “to be number 1, you must train like you’re number two”.

Annie Guglia

Follow this Tokyo hopeful on Instagram.

Montrealer Annie Guglia was crowned Canadian street skateboarding champion in March 2020, Vice-Champion in 2019, and won the Empire Open title in 2018. She represents one of Canada’s best Olympic hopefuls for Tokyo 2020, where skateboarding will make its debut on the Olympic programme. In addition to being a skateboarding pro, bewteen 2015 and 2017, Annie wrote her master’s thesis on the skateboard industry. It was when doing her thesis research that she regained the taste for competition – she didn’t even consider herself as an “athlete” before this revelation.

Annie Guglia laughing

Annie Guglia. (Photo: Instagram/@nnieguglia, taken by @cameralady_)

On her Instagram, she’ll show you her 🔥 skateboard skills in awesome videos, like the one below. Since Annie takes part in competitions all over the world, you will have unprecedented access to the backstage of these events, both in her posts and in her stories. Fun fact: she writes mainly in English, but she is perfectly bilingual!

Kelsey Mitchell

Follow this Tokyo 2020 Olympic hopeful on Instagram.

Hoping to make her first Olympic appearance, Kelsey Mitchell didn’t always think it would be in track cycling. Growing up in Alberta, Mitchell was a competitive soccer player who didn’t get her start in cycling until age 23 after being discovered through the RBC Training Ground program

Kelsey Mitchell on the rowing machine at RBC Training Ground

Kelsey Mitchell is tested on the rowing machine at the 2017 RBC Training Ground Ontario Regional Final (Photo: Kevin Light)

She rode her first race in February 2018 and the rest is history! After getting adjusted to competing on her own rather than with a team, Mitchell won sprint gold at the 2018 Canadian Championships as well as bronze in the keirin and 500m trial. However that wasn’t the only time she tasted victory. At the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, she won sprint gold in the 200m and set a world record! In January 2019, she finished sixth at her first UCI World Cup in Hong Kong. Mitchell admires the mentality and work ethic of fellow track cycler and Olympic medalist Georgia Simmerling, who was also a late transfer into the sport. 

Félix Auger-Aliassime

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This talented 19-year-old has everyone watching. Known for breaking all the age records, Félix Auger-Aliassime is taking the tennis world by storm. It all started at 14-years-old when he made history by being the youngest to qualify for an event on the ATP Challenger Tour. Last August, he was the first player born in the 2000s to be on the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament at the US Open.

Felix Auger-Aliassime, of Canada, serves

Felix Auger-Aliassime, of Canada, serves to Lucas Pouille, not shown, of France, during the first round of the Men’s Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Toronto, Tuesday, August 7, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

At 18-years-old he became the youngest player to reach No. 33 in the rankings since Lleyton Hewitt on October 18, 1999. But it doesn’t stop there. In 2019, Auger-Aliassime continued to turn heads when he became the youngest ever semi-finalist at the Miami Open. The Montreal native currently ranks No. 20 in the ATP rankings and is on his way to becoming one of Canada’s next great tennis stars. Fun Fact: He is bilingual in English and en français!

Stephanie Labbé

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This talented Olympian brings lots of experience to the pitch. Goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé has been a part of the Canadian Women’s Soccer program since 2002. It all started at the age of twelve in Edmonton, Alberta where she picked up a soccer ball for the first time. She played collegiate soccer for the University of Connecticut and then made her senior national team debut in July 2008. Since then she’s helped put Canadian soccer on the map with 55 international appearances (as of May 2020). With the under-20 national team, she won gold and silver at the 2004 and 2006 Concacaf Championships, and competed at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup both years.

Canada goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe made some important first half saves, but Canada couldn’t capitalize on its chances and lost 2-0 to Germany in Olympic football semifinals on August 16, 2016.

She’s represented Canada at two Pan American Games. At Santo Domingo 2003 she took home a silver medal and finished fourth at Toronto 2015. Labbé was also on the Canadian roster for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2011 and 2015, helping Canada qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup with a silver medal at the 2018 Concacaf Championship. Even with such an impressive resume, her biggest accomplishment didn’t come until she made her Olympic debut at Rio 2016. She started five out of six games, allowed only four goals and helped lead Team Canada to a bronze medal. Now she has her sights set on making another run for the podium at Tokyo 2020. Labbé has also been open about her battle with depression and shared her story to help others. 

Kayla Alexander

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Whether it’s blocking shots or writing books, this talented basketball player can do it all. Alexander first put a basketball in her hands in grade six and the rest is history. She went on to play college ball for Syracuse and became only the second player from that school to be selected in a WNBA draft. She currently plays for the Chicago Sky in her sixth year in the league.

Forward Kayla Alexander in action during a FIBA World Cup Exhibition game in September 2018. (Photo: Chris Poss)

Alexander also helped Team Canada secure a third consecutive spot in the Olympics after going 3-0 in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in February 2020. Alongside basketball, another passion of hers is teaching and inspiring kids. She combined her two passions in 2019 when she released a children’s book called The Magic of Basketball, co-written with her younger sister Kesia. Look for her on the court as she hopes to make her Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 next summer.

Charity Williams

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This 23-year-old is one of Canada’s most promising female rugby players. She started playing at the age of 14 on her high school team and quickly realized it was her passion. Within three years she went from a club team, on to the provincial and then to national team programs. Williams was a part of the Canadian Women’s Sevens Youth Olympic Team who placed second at the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China.

Canada's Charity Williams runs in for a try

Canada’s Charity Williams runs in for a try during quarter-final action against the U.S. in the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series at Westhills Stadium in Langford, B.C., on Sunday, May 12, 2019. The U.S. won 12-7. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Her Canada Women’s Sevens Team debut came at the 2014-2015 World Rugby Women’s Sevens World Series. She also competed at the tournament the following year with a total of five career WSWS appearances. However Williams’ biggest highlight yet was helping Team Canada earn the bronze medal at Rio 2016. She’s now hunting for a second Olympic medal at Tokyo 2020.

Markus Thormeyer

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This accomplished 22-year-old swimmer knows his way around a pool. After being inspired by Brent Hayden’s performance at London 2012, Thormeyer knew he also wanted to make it to the Olympic Games. Four years later, he made his Olympic debut at Rio 2016 in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay finishing seventh. A year later he took home a bronze medal at the 2017 FINA World Championships as a part of the mixed 4x100m freestyle relay team. 

Markus Thormeyer smiles after finishing a race

Markus Thormeyer smiles and waves after winning the Men’s 200 Free at the 2019 Canadian Swimming Trials in Toronto on Saturday April 6, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Thormeyer made his international breakthrough in 2018, when he won 100m backstroke bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. In 2019, he made history at the Canadian Trials, breaking a 10-year national record in the men’s 100m backstroke with a time of 53.35 seconds. Thormeyer was also named Swimming Canada’s Male Swimmer of the Year in both 2018 and 2019. Look out for this speedy swimmer as he has his sights set on Tokyo 2020.

Erica Wiebe

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Winning gold in her Olympic debut at Rio 2016, Erica Wiebe made her name known by becoming Canada’s third ever gold medallist in wrestling. Her journey to becoming an Olympic champion started back in 2007 when she made her first international appearance at the Pan American Games. Wiebe attended London 2012 as a training partner for Olympian Leah Callahan, giving her a first taste of the Olympic experience.

Canada’s Erica Wiebe after defeating Belarus’ Vasilisa Marzaliuk, during the women’s 75-kg freestyle wrestling competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (Photo/Jason Ransom)

Wiebe won silver at the Commonwealth Games in 2012 and bronze the following year. However her best year yet came in 2014 where she won every individual tournament she entered, a total of 36 matches. She finished off her incredible season with gold medals at both the Commonwealth Games and World University Championships. Wiebe joins Tonya Verbeek and Carol Huynh as Canada’s only female Olympic wrestling medallists. In 2018, she won 76kg bronze at the World Wrestling Championships. She now has her eyes on defending her title at Tokyo 2020.

Kia Nurse

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This skilled basketball player started her Team Canada journey at the U-16 FIBA Americas Championship in 2011. The following year she led the team to a bronze medal as team captain. In 2014, she helped Canada qualify for the 2014 FIBA World Championships and starred as the youngest member of the team. Recognize her name? She comes from a family full of athletic achievement. Her brother Darnell Nurse plays in the National Hockey league and her cousin Sarah Nurse is also a Team Canada athlete, on the women’s ice hockey team.

Rio 2016: Kia Nurse, women's basketball

Canada’s Kia Nurse (5) drives through Serbia’s Nevena Jovanovic (8) and Ana Dabovic (14) on her way to the hoop during their preliminary round basketball match at the 2016 Summer Olympics Monday, August 8, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Kia represented Canada again in 2015, taking home gold at both the Pan American Games in Toronto and the FIBA Americas Championship, qualifying the team for the Rio 2016 Olympics. She was the top scorer for Canada at the Pan Am Games, earning her the spot of the Closing Ceremony flag bearer. She’s also played for the WNBA’s New York Liberty since 2018. Kia made her Olympic debut at Rio 2016 and hopes to lead her team to an Olympic podium at Tokyo 2020 (the women’s team has already qualified).

Meaghan Benfeito

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This decorated athlete is an Olympic veteran who made her debut at Beijing 2008. It all started back at the age of seven when she began diving for the first time. Shortly after Meaghan Benfeito started diving competitively, she realized she had found her passion. Her first big achievement came at the 2005 FINA World Championships where she won bronze in the 10m synchro with Roseline Filion. In 2007 she made her Pan Am Games debut where she took home bronze in the 3m synchro. Meaghan won bronze again at Guadalajara 2011 and took home gold at Toronto 2015.

Meaghan Benfeito dives during the women’s 10-metre platform diving final at the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (photo/ Jason Ransom)

In her second Olympic Games at London 2012, Meaghan won the bronze medal in 10m synchro with longtime partner Filion. Four years later at Rio 2016, the dynamic duo took home the bronze once again. Meaghan also secured the bronze in the individual 10m event, totalling her Olympic medal count to three. She’s now back in the pool and training, with her sights set on another medal at Tokyo 2020.

Tyler Mislawchuk

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Whether it’s swimming, cycling or running, this triathlete can do it all! Tyler Mislawchuk first started triathlon at the age of 15 after being inspired by Simon Whitfield’s performance at Beijing 2008. His first international competition was in 2011 at the ITU World Championships in the junior division. In 2013, he made his World Cup debut on home soil in Edmonton. 

Triathlete Tyler Mislawchuk races to the finish line at the Toyko 2020 test event.

Triathlete Tyler Mislawchuk races to the finish line at the Toyko 2020 test event on Friday, August 16 in Tokyo. (Tommy Zaferes/ITU Media)

After competing in several Pan American Cup, Oceania Cup and European Cup events, Mislawchuk made his ITU World Triathlon Series debut in 2015. He finished 10th at the London stop where he was the highest-ranked Canadian man in just his third start. Mislawchuk also placed 10th at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto and competed at the Grand Final as a senior for the first time. His Olympic debut came at Rio 2016 where he placed 15th overall. He currently ranks 5th in the world rankings and is back to training for Tokyo 2020.

Mike Woods

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A latecomer to the sport, Mike Woods started his cycling career at age 25 after his running career came to an end due to several injuries. His first national championship road race came in 2012 where he finished in 21st place. Just two years later he improved his placing drastically, finishing within one spot of the podium in fourth place. Woods earned his first professional victory in 2015, in the fifth stage of the Tour of Utah. In 2018, he won the 17th stage of the Vuelta a España for his first Grand Tour stage victory. But that wasn’t his only highlight of the year.

Cyclist celebrating on bike

Canada’s Michael Woods celebrates after winning the 17th stage of the Spanish Vuelta cycling race between Getxo and Balcon de Vizcaya, northern Spain, Wednesday, Sept.12, 2018. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

A few weeks later, Woods made Canadian history with a bronze medal finish in the road race at the 2018 UCI World Championships. It was the first medal earned by a Canadian man in the event in 34 years. Woods also had another competitive achievement in October 2019 when he won the Milano-Torino one-day classic. Known for pushing through injuries, Woods made his Olympic debut at Rio 2016 a few weeks after breaking his hand. Look out for this speedy cyclist as he makes his second Olympic appearance at Tokyo 2020.

Antoine Valois-Fortier

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It all started at age four when Antoine Valois-fortier’s parents enrolled him in judo for the first time. In 2000, his dream to make the Olympic Games came to fruition when he met his future coach and Olympian Nicolas Gill. Starting in 2011, Antoine won six straight medals at the Pan American Championships including a gold in 2016. His Olympic debut came at London 2012 where he took home the bronze. It was a special moment because he became the first Canadian judoka to earn an Olympic medal since Sydney 2000, where his coach Gill was a silver medallist.

Antoine Valois-Fortier in his World Judo Championships bronze medal bout on August 27, 2015 (Photo: IJF Media by G. Sabau and Zahonyi).

After claiming his first Grand Prix medal in February 2013 in Düsseldorf, he won his first Grand Slam medal in May 2014 in Baku. In 2015, Antoine had another breakthrough when he won his first Grand Prix gold in Ulaanbaatar. In 2016, he was Canada’s top-ranked judoka at the end of the Olympic qualification window. Antoine earned his third world championship medal in 2019 with a bronze, after winning silver in 2014 and bronze in 2015. Antoine is now back to training as he prepares for Tokyo 2020.

Pamphinette Buisa

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This skilled rugby player has made a name for herself in recent years. Pamphinette (Pam) Buisa started playing the sport in seventh grade after originally being interested in basketball. Her first major competition was at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing where she helped Canada win a silver medal. She also suited up for Team Canada at the 2017-18 World Rugby Sevens Series and played in the tournament the following year as well.

Pam Buisa fights off defender

LIMA, Peru – Pam Buisa of Canada runs the ball against Mexico during rugby sevens action at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games on July 26, 2019. Photo by Christopher Morris/COC

In 2018, Pam competed at the Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco. Pam wore the Maple Leaf again at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima. She’s been an active voice for the Black Lives Matter Movement alongside teammate Charity Williams. Pam hopes to make her Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.

Denis Shapovalov

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Denis Shapovalov first held a tennis racket at the age of five and has had an incredible rise ever since. At only 21-years-old, he already has an impressive list of accomplishments. His first big taste of victory was in 2015 when he led Canada to its first ever Junior Davis Cup title. In 2016, he became a Grand Slam winner on the junior circuit in Wimbledon, becoming the third Canadian to do so. The following year in his first full year on the ATP tour, Denis rose more than 200 spots, finishing the year ranked 51st.

Denis Shapovalov holds the Stockholm Trophy up.

Denis Shapovalov of Canada, holds the trophy after winning the Stockholm Open tennis tournament men’s single final at the Royal Tennis Hall in Stockholm, Sweden, Sunday Oct. 20, 2019. (Henrik Montgomery / TT via AP)

In 2018, at only 19-years-old, he cracked the top 30 in the world rankings, becoming the youngest player to do so since 2005. He continued to turn heads when he became the only teenager ranked in the top 20 in April 2019. Denis won his first ATP title in October 2019 at the Stockholm Open. Having competed at some of the biggest stages in tennis, his next goal is to compete at his first Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020.

Leah Kirchmann

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Getting into the world of cycling at age 13, Leah Kirchmann first competed at the junior world championships in both road cycling and mountain biking, eventually choosing to focus on road cycling. After her appearance at Rio 2016, Kirchmann won team time trial bronze at the 2018 UCI World Championships along with placing fourth in the individual time trial  a great personal success as the time trial had formerly been a weakness of hers.

Leah Kirchmann at a competition. She is in the foreground of the picture with fans and other cyclists in the background. She is wearing a white helmet, a blue and white shirt, and black bike shorts with red and blue detailing.

Leah Kirchmann smiling while at competition, surrounded by fans and other cyclists.

In 2019 the cyclist landed a spot on the podium, placing second in the La Course by le Tour de France. Most recently, she secured a spot representing Team Canada in road cycling at Tokyo 2020. Outside of cycling her interests include cross-country skiing, hiking, cooking, and yoga. She is also a Fast and Female athlete ambassador and leads the mentorship program for the Global Relay Bridge the Gap fund.

Karol-Ann Canuel

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Known to some as Karo, cyclist Karol-Ann Canuel first began her competitive career at just age 11. Breaking her helmet during her very first race due to a fall, Canuel got right back on her bike the next day. Her determination is what led her to making history in 2014 when she became the first Canadian cyclist to win world championship gold in the team time trial.

Karol-Ann Canuel cycling at the 2018 UCI World Championships. She is the only cyclist in the shot and is wearing an orange helmet, a blue and white top with black biker shorts that have red and blue detailing.

Karol-Ann Canuel at the 2018 UCI World Championships held in Innsbruck, Austria, where she placed eighth in the individual time trial.

From 2015 to 2018, Canuel recorded four straight podium finishes in the individual time trial at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Gatineau. Canuel had her Olympic debut at Rio 2016, where she was Canada’s top finisher in the women’s Road race. She will be representing Team Canada once again in road cycling at Tokyo 2020 alongside Kirchmann. Canuel’s interests outside of sport include reading, yoga, and watching Netflix!

Sage Watson

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Sage Watson, wearer of the iconic red lip in competition, first entered the world of track and field at age six, and became competitive at age 14. She became inspired to compete for Team Canada while watching Canadian athletes compete at Athens 2004. Watson made her Olympic debut at Rio 2016 where she advanced to the semifinals of the 400m hurdles and anchored Canada to a fourth-place finish in the 4x400m relay.

Sage Watson running on the track with the baton

Sage Watson competing in the 4x400m relay at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, August 19, 2016. Photo by Mark Blinch/COC

In 2019, Watson made history during the 400m hurdles semi-final at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, crossing the finish line with a new personal best of 54.32 seconds; breaking the previous Canadian record of 54.39 held by Rosey Edeh. During her off season, Watson enjoys finding time for yoga, cooking, and horseback riding. 

Jeremy Bagshaw

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“Thrown” in the pool at age two-three, Jeremy Bagshaw competed in his first meet at age four. Bagshaw first got his chance at representing Canada at the 2009 Junior Pan Pacific Championships before gaining multi-sport games experience at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010 where he won the bronze in the 200m freestyle. He then became a three-time Canadian World Championship team member and looks to represent Canada once again with his eyes set on Tokyo 2020.

Jeremy Bagshaw in pool during preliminaries. He is wearing a white swim cap, and black goggles.

Jeremy Bagshaw looks on in preliminaries during the 2015 Canadian Swimming Trials.

Bagshaw graduated from the University of California, Berkley in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Integrative Biology. He will continue to pursue making his first Olympic team while attending medical school in Limerick, Ireland. His other interests include watching soccer and basketball, and trying new foods from different countries!

Nick Wammes

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Nick Wammes started out as an endurance athlete, competing in both road and track events at age 12. It wasn’t until early 2016, when he decided to solely focus on track cycling. In the same year, Wammes won two medals in the junior division at the Canadian championships. Fast forward to 2018, he transitioned into the elite category and won sprint bronze at the Canadian championships.

Nick Wammes making a turn on the track. He is in a black and red cycling suit.

Nick Wammes making a turn on the track in competition.

Wammes had not even turned 20 when he represented Canada at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima. Less than eight weeks later, he won three national titles at the 2019 Canadian Championships, finishing first in the keirin, sprint, and team sprint events. Most recently, Wammes had his first top 10 finish on the World Cup circuit in January 2020 when he finished ninth in the sprint at the World Cup stop in Milton. He will be competing at his first Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020. Wammes’ interests outside of cycling include photography, videography, and hiking.

Check back here every Friday for a new Team Canada athlete making their way to Tokyo 2020.

Brandie Wilkerson

READ: Brandie Wilkerson: How 2020 has been a year to learn, reset and find her voice

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Having a later start than most, Brandie Wilkerson began playing beach volleyball in 2013. Prior to this, Wilkerson had a successful indoor volleyball career as a four-time All-Star opposite hitter at York University, which aided in her transition to beach volleyball. She made her first AVP appearance in the 2017 season as part of a qualifier team (with American Nicole Branagh). At the Manhattan Beach Open, the second last stop of that season, the pair made it to the finals. Moving forward, Wilkerson was a force to be reckoned with at both AVP and the FIVB World Tour.

Celebrating athletes hold hands

Brandie Wilkerson, left, and her teammate Heather Bansley celebrate during a women’s quarterfinal game at the Beachvolley Worldtour Major Series, on Saturday, July 14, 2018, in Gstaad, Switzerland. (Peter Schneider/Keystone via AP)

In 2018, she earned the FIVB World’s Best Blocker title. In that same year, alongside teammate Heather Bansley, the pair won their first gold medal on the FIVB Beach Volleyball circuit. The pair also won the bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 test event in July 2019. They are currently ranked sixth in the provisional FIVB Olympic Rankings, on track to qualify for Tokyo 2020. Wilkerson’s interests outside of sport include photography and painting.

Ellie Black

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Ellie Black began her competitive gymnastics career at age nine, inspired by seeing the Beijing 2008 artistic gymnastics competition on TV. Five years later, Black ended a lengthy drought at the 2013 Universiade where she became the first Canadian female artistic gymnast to win a medal at the world student games since 1983, a preview of her historic accomplishments to come in the next few years. In 2015, she finished seventh in the women’s individual all-around for Canada’s best-ever result in the event. At Rio 2016, Black placed fifth in the women’s individual all-around for the country’s best ever Olympic result in the event.

Ellie Black competes on beam at Rio 2016

Ellie Black competes on beam at, Rio 2016. August 11, 2016. COC Photo/Jason Ransom

She didn’t stop there. In 2017, she made history at the FIG World Championships, winning silver to become Canada’s first ever all-around medallist at the worlds. Most recently, at Lima 2019, Black became the first woman to win back-to-back gold medals in the individual all-around at the Pan Am Games. That was one of five medals Black won in Lima, bringing her career Pan Am Games total to 10, and making her Canada’s most decorated gymnast ever at the Pan Ams. Outside of making Canadian history, Black enjoys watching movies, listening to music, and collecting Starbucks mugs from her travels.

Leya Buchanan

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Leya Buchanan started running track at age 11 and made her IAAF World Championships debut in 2017, competing in the 100m sprint. She finished second in the 100m at the 2017 and 2018 Canadian Championships and reached the 100m final at the 2018 NACAC Championships in Toronto, finishing eighth.

Canada's Leya Buchanan, of Toronto, looks on after running in the anchor spot to finish in second-place behind China during the women's 4 x 100 metre relay at the Harry Jerome International Track Classic, in Burnaby, B.C.

Canada’s Leya Buchanan, of Toronto, looks on after running in the anchor spot to finish in second-place behind China during the women’s 4 x 100 metre relay at the Harry Jerome International Track Classic, in Burnaby, B.C., on Wednesday, June 27, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

More recently, Buchanan raced in the 100m and 4x100m relay at Lima 2019. She also became the 2019 Canadian silver medallist in the 100m as well as the 2019 Canadian champion in the 200m. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and enjoys watching crime TV series on Netflix in her free time.

Kadeisha Buchanan

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With 11 siblings, Kadeisha Buchanan was no stranger to athleticism and competitive nature. She began her soccer career at the age of eight-years-old and went on to make her Canada Soccer debut in 2013. This is where her long list of notable recognitions began.

Known as the “Christine Sinclair of defence,” Buchanan was named the 2013 and 2014 Canadian Under-20 Player of the Year and was the recipient of the Young Player Award at the Women’s World Cup. Buchanan was then named Canada’s female player of the year in 2015, ending Sinclair’s 11-year run.

Kadeisha Buchanan with the ball on the pitch

Kadeisha Buchanan (Canada Soccer)

Recognized as a backbone to Canada’s defensive line, Buchanan has also had some memorable offense opportunities. One being her third career senior international goal that helped Canada finish second at the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifier to book their ticket to Rio 2016, where they ended up winning bronze.

In total, she has three CONCACAF medals, and four Champions League titles. Although, Buchanan also majored in Criminology at West Virginia University, where she was a part of the NSCAA All-America First Team and All-Big 12 Team twice. She was also named the two-time Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and was the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year when she was a freshman. Currently, Buchanan plays professionally in the UEFA Champions League for Olympique Lyonnais in France.

Alannah Yip

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Sport climbing will be contested for the first time at Tokyo 2020. Alannah and Sean McColl will be the two athletes representing Team Canada. The first time Alannah tried climbing, she was six years old, and began competing when she was ten. In 2016, she began competing on the IFSC World Cup circuit, focusing on bouldering events. By 2019 she was competing in all three disciplines.

Alannah Yip climbs her way to victory at the 2020 IFSC Pan American Championships in Los Angeles.

Alannah Yip climbs her way to victory at the 2020 IFSC Pan American Championships in Los Angeles. (Photo: Daniel Gajda/IFSC)

Alannah gave up climbing for about a year and half while studying for her mechanical engineering so she could focus on her education. But she realized she was miserable without it, so she found a way to finish her education while training for international competitions.

A career highlight for her was finishing fifth in bouldering at a World Cup in April 2017. That moment made her the first Canadian woman to advance to the final of a World Cup climbing event. At the 2019 IFSC World Championship, she finished seventh in bouldering, a career high.

Outside of sport climbing, Alannah enjoys mountain biking, cooking and doing jigsaw puzzles.

Sarah Douglas

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Growing up on the island of Barbados, Sarah began sailing at age seven. By age 10 she competed at her first world championships in the Optimist class. Returning to Canada in 2008, she transitioned into the Radial class and quickly became one of the top youth sailors in the country. At age 16 she competed at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in the Byte CII class. After stepping away from competitive sailing for a few years, Douglas returned in 2014 to pursue her goal of winning an Olympic medal and was named to the senior national team in 2015.

Sarah Douglas waves from her sailboat on the water

Photo courtesy of Sarah Douglas.

She showcased a consistent rise up the international rankings, until she achieved a career highlight winning gold at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru. Douglas also showcased great potential at the 2018 World Sailing Championships, placing sixth in her event, which qualified an Olympic berth for Canada in the Laser Radial for Tokyo 2020. Her brother Greg Douglas is a two-time Olympian in sailing, who represented Barbados at Beijing 2008 and Canada at London 2012. Douglas will be making her Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, competing in the Laser Radial (one-handed dinghy) event.

Outside of sailing, Sarah enjoys cooking and many other water activities such as swimming or snorkelling. In 2017 she earned her Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing Management at the University of Guelph.

Danielle Lappage

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Danielle began wrestling at age 13 at her middle school and found great success in the sport from the beginning. In tenth grade, she won the junior world championships and committed to the sport with the dream of competing at the Olympics. Lappage made her Olympic debut at Rio 2016, but sustained a ruptured hamstring in the warm up of her opening match, that prevented her from competing in Rio. With a great deal of physical and mental therapy she returned to the sport in 2018, to climb the podium in every international tournament she competed, including a silver medal at the UWW World Championships (65kg).

Canada's Danielle Lappage celebrates her gold medal in the women's freestyle wrestling 63-kilogram event at the Commonwealth Games action in Glasgow, Scotland on Thursday, July 31, 2014.

Canada’s Danielle Lappage celebrates her gold medal in the women’s freestyle wrestling 63-kilogram event at the Commonwealth Games action in Glasgow, Scotland on Thursday, July 31, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

In 2019, Lappage received many more career highlights, standing on the international podium six times. In March 2020, she qualified for her second Olympic Games after winning the 68kg weight class at the Pan American qualification event.

Outside of wrestling, Danielle earned a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology, followed by a Masters of Arts in Criminology and attended Law School at the University of Calgary.

Mélissa Citrini-Beaulieu

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It’s not often that you find your calling by the age of two, but that’s how long it took Mélissa Citrini-Beaulieu to discover her love for diving. Her mother signed her up for classes in Chateauguay when she was four-years-old, and Mélissa has excelled in the sport ever since, now specializing in the 3m springboard synchronized event.

Since teaming up with Jennifer Abel in 2017, the duo have captured a total of 17 medals together, including two World Championship silver medals. Their 2019 medal at the World Championships in Gwangju qualified them for Tokyo 2020, which will give Mélissa her first appearance at the Olympic Games. In 2020, Mélissa completed her Bachelor of Nursing, and is now able to work as a Nurse Clinician.

Jeremy Hazin

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Getting into the sport at age eight by joining his father at the local table tennis club, Jeremy Hazin quickly developed great success in the sport. Making his debut at only age 13, Hazin became the youngest Canadian player to ever compete at the senior ITTF World Championships in 2013. By age 17, Hazin wrote his name into the Canadian table tennis record books when he became the youngest men’s singles national champion ever in 2017. He successfully defended this title in 2018, while adding a national title in men’s doubles.

Male table tennis player prepares to return the ball
LIMA, Peru – Jeremy Hazin and Eugene Wang compete in the men’s doubles table tennis at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games on August 04, 2019. Photo by Christopher Morris/COC

READ: Three table tennis players nominated to Team Canada for Tokyo 2020

Hazin was a triple medallist at the 2017 Pan American Junior Championships, winning bronze in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. He also competed at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima where he advanced to the round of 16 in singles. Now 21-years-old, Hazin will be competing at his first Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer.

Michelle Li

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Two-time Olympian, Michelle Li has been breaking badminton barriers in Canada, since she won the silver medal at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games. In 2011 she made her debut at the Pan Am Games where she was also a double gold medallist, with partner Alex Bruce. Together the pair had a breakthrough performance at the London 2012 Olympic Games when they finished fourth to achieve Canada’s best-ever Olympic result in badminton. Li went on to compete at Rio 2016, placing 17th in women’s singles. 

Michelle Li returns a shot
Canada’s Michelle Li plays fellow Canadian Rachel Honderich in gold medal badminton action at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, on Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. Li won in straight sets. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

The Canadian hit an all-time high for the country in early 2020 when she was ranked eighth in the world. Li is looking to represent Canada at her third Olympic Games in Tokyo. 

Competing in a sport that doesn’t get a lot of recognition at home, the 29-year-old continues to devote her career to making history for Canadian badminton and is inspiring others to go after their goals along the way! 

Maggie Mac Neil

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Just 21 years of age, Maggie Mac Neil has already accomplished so much in the world of swimming. She burst onto the scene back in 2019 at her first FINA World Championships, shocking the world with a Canadian and Americas record swim in the 100m butterfly to win gold. On top of that, she picked up two bronze medals in the 4x100m freestyle and 4×100 medley relays, later earning the title of Swimming Canada’s Breakout Swimmer of the Year for her performance.

Maggie MacNeil raises a fist in celebration after winning the women's 100m butterfly title.
Canada’s Margaret MacNeil reacts after winning the women’s 100m butterfly final at the World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, Monday, July 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Currently attending the University of Michigan, Mac Neil is a star at the collegiate level too. In 2019 she was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year after winning four conference titles and setting several school records. In both 2020 and 2021 she earned the title of Big Ten Women’s Swimmer of the Year. She will make her first Olympic appearance at Tokyo 2020.

Outside of the pool, Mac Neil is just as talented. She’s played the violin and clarinet since she was a child and plans on pursuing either medicine or law.

Georgia Simmerling

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A true multi-sport athlete, Georgia Simmerling is the first Canadian ever to compete in a different sport at three separate Olympic Games.

She made her Olympic debut in alpine skiing at Vancouver 2010, switched over to ski cross at Sochi 2014, and then took a shot at track cycling (team pursuit) at Rio 2016. She will compete in track cycling again at Tokyo 2020 in her final Olympic Games.

Along the way, Georgia collected 9 World Cup podium finishes in ski cross, a silver at the 2016 UCI World Championships in team pursuit, and a bronze at Rio 2016 in team pursuit.

  • Team Canada Georgia Simmerling

Beyond her athletic ability and success, Georgia’s story is one of passion and perseverance. She has battled through several serious injuries including three broken vertebrae, torn knee ligaments, and broken legs – coming back stronger each time. When she’s not on the track or slopes, Georgia is often working as an ambassador and entrepreneur. In 2013 she visited Tanzania with Right to Play and in 2019 she started her own apparel brand, Project Athlete.


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Quinn started playing soccer when they were 5-years-old. When they were on their first rep team, they asked their coach how old you have to be to play for Canada. At Rio 2016, Quinn made her Olympic debut where they helped Canada win the bronze medal. While earning their biology degree, Quinn played collegiately for the Duke Blue Devils. Then Quinn played professionally for the Washington Spirit (2018-19), Paris FC (2019), and Seattle Reign FC (2019-20).

Quinn feature image
Canada defender Quinn (5) and United States forward Megan Rapinoe (15) chase after the ball during the first half of an international friendly women’s soccer match, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

READ: Team Canada soccer squad set for Tokyo 2020

Quinn was 14 years old when they made their debut in the Canadian youth program in 2010 and won a silver medal at the 2012 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. They have represented Canada at two age group FIFA World Cups, the 2012 U-17 and 2014 U-20, making it to the quarterfinals at both events. They played with the senior team at two Cyprus Cups, winning a silver medal in 2015. 

Outside of soccer, Quinn enjoys hiking and cycling. Quinn will be playing at their second Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020.