TORONTO (June 29, 2021) – On Tuesday evening, Canada Basketball and the Canadian Olympic Committee announced Canada’s women’s basketball team nominated to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Canada qualified for Tokyo 2020 after going undefeated at one of four FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournaments in Ostend, Belgium in February 2020.
“Some of my favourite basketball memories have come from proudly representing Canada at the Olympic Games,” said Kim Gaucher. “There is nothing greater than having the opportunity to pull on the red and white jersey with Canada across your chest. And to be able to do that for a third time on the world’s largest sporting stage is something I never imagined. I am so proud of the players and staff who have worked incredibly hard to earn this moment. Our goal is to inspire the next generation of great young players in our country and of course chase the podium in Tokyo.”
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be Canada’s third consecutive Olympic appearance after the team previously competed at London 2012 and at Rio 2016. The highest Olympic placement by a Canadian women’s basketball team was 4th at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.
Team Canada’s Tokyo 2020 roster includes six Olympians, while the remainder of the players will be competing at their first Games. Veterans Natalie Achonwa, Miranda Ayim and Kim Gaucher will be making their third Olympic appearance after representing Canada at London 2012 and at Rio 2016.
“There has been no greater honour for me than representing my country on the world stage this past decade. With the pandemic, the last year and a half has felt like forever, so I can’t wait to join the team in Tokyo and put back on a Canada jersey,” said Achonwa. “I can’t believe that I will be going to my third Olympic Games this summer. We’re focused on bringing a medal back to Canada and they say ‘third times the charm’ so hopefully, this is the summer our dreams come to fruition.”
Canada is currently ranked a program-high 4th in the FIBA World Rankings and recently competed in the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup 2021 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“We’ve selected a team that is dynamic, relentless and together,” said Head Coach Lisa Thomaidis. “We have an exciting mix of youth and experience – a trio of three-time Olympians, along with six Olympic rookies. Half the team has represented Canada at previous Olympics, and we’ll be leaning on our collective experience to navigate our Tokyo journey.”
Team Canada continues their Olympic preparations at the Toronto Raptors’ temporary training facilities in Tampa, Florida. Prior to the Games, the team will travel to Kariya City, Japan, the sister city of Mississauga, Ontario, for the final pre-Olympic training camp.
Team Canada opens its Olympic tournament against Serbia on July 26 (Day 3), followed by the Republic of Korea on July 29 (Day 6) and Spain on August 1 (Day 9). The quarterfinals will take place on August 4 (Day 12), and the semifinals on August 6 (Day 14). Women’s basketball will conclude on August 8 (Day 16) with the bronze and gold medal matches. All matches will be played at the Saitama Super Arena.
“Our women’s basketball team is packed, not only with incredibly talented players but with incredible community leaders,” said Team Canada’s Tokyo 2020 Chef de Mission, Marnie McBean. “They have figured out how to use their diverse voices to advocate and be allies for change, be that equity or inclusion, for all ages. I am proud to lead with them, as their Chef de Mission.”
The athletes and coaches nominated are:
Natalie Achonwa (Guelph, Ont.)
Kayla Alexander (Milton, Ont.)
Laeticia Amihere (Mississauga, Ont.)
Miranda Ayim (London, Ont.)
Bridget Carleton (Chatham, Ont.)
Shay Colley (Brampton, Ont.)
Aaliyah Edwards (Kingston, Ont.)
Nirra Fields (Montreal, Que.)
Kim Gaucher (Mission, B.C.)
Kia Nurse (Hamilton, Ont.)
Shaina Pellington (Pickering, Ont.)
Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe (Toronto, Ont.)
Sami Hill (Toronto, Ont.)
Aislinn Konig (Surrey, B.C.)
Merissah Russell (Ottawa, Ont.)
Jamie Scott (Pasco, Washington)
Lisa Thomaidis (Dundas, Ont.) – Head Coach
Steve Baur (Lower Sackville, N.S.) – Assistant Coach
Carly Clarke (Halifax, N.S.) – Assistant Coach
Prior to being named to Team Canada, all nominations are subject to approval by the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Team Selection Committee following its receipt of nominations by all National Sport Organisations.
Story and photo: Canadian Olympic Committee