Roundup: Wonder women lead Canada in Rio
RIO DE JANEIRO — It took just 30 seconds for Ghislaine Landry to power past her overmatched Japanese opponents and score Canada’s first Olympic rugby sevens try.
That turned out to be just one of many highlight moments for the Canadian women’s teams in at the Rio Games. The rugby, soccer and basketball teams all turned in dominating performances Saturday as Olympic competition got underway in earnest.
Not only did the rugby team pile on the offence, they didn’t concede a single point over their two opening games. Toronto’s Landry ended up with two tries and three converts, and Montreal’s Bianca Farella added another pair of tries in Canada’s 45-0 thrashing of Japan. Farella continued her torrid scoring with two more tries as Canada followed up with a 38-0 rout of host Brazil.
Canada’s women’s soccer team remained undefeated in Rio with a 3-1 win over Zimbabwe, and the women’s basketball team rolled over China 90-68 to win its first match at these Games.
Women’s team sport in Canada has been on a steady rise since Christine Sinclair led the soccer team to bronze four years ago in London. Gold at the 2015 Pan Am Games for the basketball team and a string of excellent performances from both the sevens and 15s rugby squads have kept the momentum going.
Landry said the sevens team is “absolutely” aware what it can do for the future of its sport.
“But it’s not what we’re thinking about in the moment,” she said. “If we put on a good performance, that’s going to kind of do leaps and bounds for the sport. Worry about the process and our game, and I think the rest will take care of itself.”
Sinclair knows what it’s like to have a stellar performance translate into support at home. The Burnaby, B.C., native’s hat trick in London in a heartbreaking semifinal loss to the Americans put her team on the map.
She is back this year and scored in Canada’s win over Zimbabwe. But Canada’s talismanic captain is joined this time by a younger cast including 21-year-old forward Janine Beckie, who scored Canada’s other two goals.
Canada has an early flight Sunday for Brasilia where it will take on No. 2 Germany on Tuesday in Group F play.
“These tournaments are brutal with the (short) turnaround and the travel that catches up on players. So it puts us in a good situation to have a good go at Germany. There’s some history to be made there. And to give rest where it’s needed to players that have been putting big shifts in.”
In women’s basketball, Tamara Tatham of Brampton, Ont., had 20 points as Canada opened its quest for a first ever Olympic medal with a win over China. Team captain Kim Gaucher of Mission, B.C., led all players with 10 rebounds.
The lopsided score came as a bit of a surprise as China is ranked eighth in the world, one spot higher than Canada.
“A great way to start, I couldn’t be happier,” said head coach Lisa Thomaidis said. “There are still some things to shore up at the defensive end but we’re feeling good moving forward.”
Canada will play Serbia on Monday.
Elsewhere, tennis star Eugenie Bouchard of Westmount, Que., was victorious in her Olympic debut, making short work of American Sloane Stephens with a 6-3, 6-3 win. Bouchard won on a break when Stephens sent her volley long while facing match point.
Victoria’s Ryan Cochrane failed to qualify for the finals of the men’s 400-metre freestyle on Saturday at the Rio Games, falling short of the medal round for a third straight Olympics.
Cochrane finished his heat in 3:45.83 to place 11th overall. The top eight swimmers advance to Saturday night’s final.
“It’s frustrating, but I know I’m fortunate enough to have two chances at the Olympics and not a lot of people get that second chance,” said Cochrane, who will race in the 1,500 freestyle — his best event — on Friday. “I’m an old-enough athlete to know where to see what I need to work on and I have six days to do that.”
Carling Zeeman of Cambridge, Ont., advanced to the quarter-finals in the women’s single sculls as the Olympic rowing competition kicked off in windy conditions. Two other Canadian crews failed to advance and will have to row in repechage rounds.
By The Canadian Press