The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games arrived to much fanfare, albeit a year behind schedule, and world-class athletes flocked to the competition to show off their skill and try to land a gold medal. Some of the best of these were Canada’s staggering 371 participants – the largest number of athletes the country has sent since the 1984 Olympic Games. As such, we would like to take some time to recognize some of the most impressive athletes.
While it would be impossible to explore all of Canada’s deserving athletes in this article, we will highlight some of the most remarkable for you today. Whether you are an aspiring sports professional or prefer to spend your free time unwinding with your favorite online game, you will undoubtedly appreciate the accolades of the athletes on this list.
Born in North Vancouver on September 3, 1987, Sean McColl always dreamed of becoming the best in his field. Sport climbing is a relatively new addition to the sporting world, however, and he found opportunities lacking, particularly when it came to Olympic representation. McColl petitioned the IOC to have the sport added multiple times, in fact and was ecstatic to secure his Tokyo 2020 spot when he finished 10th at the 2019 IFSC World Championships.
McColl has been a professional climber since he was 19 years old and has participated in every IFSC World Championships edition since 2007, even while attending the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT).
Born on April 28, 1993, in Rimouski, Quebec, Maude Charron has taken the weightlifting world by storm since her first appearance on an international podium at the World University Championships in 2016, scarcely a year after she began lifting. Charron has yet to slow down, debuting at the IWF World Championships at the end of 2017 and placing fifth overall, with a notable second-place finish in the snatch portion. The athlete won gold twice in 2018, first at the Commonwealth Games and again at the 2018 World University Championships.
Charron was inspired to start weightlifting when she was just seven years old and saw the sport in a movie. However, she thought that she might be too short. She attended circus school instead, only beginning her weightlifting career in 2015 when she was forced to leave the school after sustaining injuries.
Born in Kitchener, Ontario on July 25, 1987, Mandy Bujold has excelled in boxing since 2006, when she won her junior national title and subsequently joined the national team. She was named the senior national champion in 2007 in the 50kg weight class and went on to win gold a second time that year with a stellar American Women’s Continental Championships performance.
In 2015, Bujold became the first female boxer to secure two Pan American gold medals when she defeated Marlen Esparza, the American world number one. In 2016, Bujold made her Olympic debut and progressed to the quarterfinals. She welcomed her daughter, Kate Olympia, in November 2018 and returned to the competition in 2019.
Bujold is also interested in reforming the sports industry to recognize the challenges that sportswomen face. She successfully appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to redefine Olympic boxing qualifications to include provisions for women who were postpartum or pregnant during the qualification stages.
Born on August 5, 1988, in Ottawa, Ontario, Melissa Bishop-Nriagu is an accomplished runner who has competed in no less than four Olympic Games over the past decade: London 2012, Toronto 2015, Rio 2016, and Tokyo 2020. Her second Olympic appearance in Rio saw the athlete lower the Canadian national record in the 800m with a time of 1:57.02 and she finished fourth overall.
Bishop-Nriagu welcomed her daughter Corinne in 2018 and took 2019 off to recover fully before running her fastest time in almost four years in Sacramento, California, with a time of 1:58.36.
Born in Richmond, British Colombia on September 28, 1990, Evan Dunfee is an accomplished Canadian runner with four Olympic Games appearances under his belt: Toronto 2015, Rio 2016, Lima 2019, and Tokyo 2020. His career started in 2006 with his first national team appointment. In 2019, Dunfee became the first Canadian 50km race walk medalist at the global biennial event. He won bronze after a punishing four-hour race that took place on his 29th birthday.
In 2016, Dunfee’s time in the 50km race walk in Rio set a Canadian record, with his fourth-place finish at 3:41.38 serving as Canada’s best Olympic result for that event. Dunfee won gold at the 2015 Pan American Games in the 20km race walk, finishing over one minute before his teammate Iñaki Gómez.
Born on September 10, 1997, in Smiths Falls, Ontario, Brooke Henderson is a well-known golf professional thanks to the impressive records she has achieved. In 2014, she turned pro with more than 50 amateur victories and was the first Canadian to be listed in first place in the Women’s World Amateur Rankings. Henderson achieved her first win as a professional in the Four Winds Invitational in 2015 and became the Symetra Tour’s third-youngest winner.
Joining the Symetra Tour before she turned 18, Henderson secured her first LPGA Tour win and, in 2016, she became the first Canadian woman to secure a major golf win in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship since 1968. She was the second-youngest major winner in the women’s competition ever and the youngest of that specific tournament since its inception in 1955. That same year, Henderson rose to second place in the World Golf Rankings, the best place secured by any Canadian.
Excelling in any field requires dedication and hard work. Sport is no exception, with many of the top athletes spending much of their lives honing their craft. The individuals listed above have earned their spot on the list, and we are excited to see where they end up next.
Likewise, consider reading: How to Watch Sports in Canada?