Penny Oleksiak, Kylie Masse among 6 swimmers named early to Canadian Olympic team

Penny Oleksiak, Kylie Masse among 6 swimmers named early to Canadian Olympic team

Penny Oleksiak and Kylie Masse were among six swimmers named early to Canada’s Olympic team Friday.

Swimming Canada nominated Olympic champion Oleksiak of Toronto, world backstroke champion Masse of LaSalle, Ont., world butterfly champion Margaret Mac Neil of London, Ont., Taylor Ruck of Kelowna, B.C., Sydney Pickrem of Halifax and Markus Thormeyer of Newmarket, Ont., to the Canadian team for the Tokyo Summer Games.

The Canadian women’s swim team won six of Canada’s 22 medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

All six were either medallist or top finishers at the 2019 world championships, where Canada swam to a best-ever performance that included eight podiums — two gold and six bronze. 

The decision comes as reports continue to swirl around the viability of the already delayed Tokyo Summer Games. 

Despite the International Olympic Committees’ insistence that the Games will begin six months from now, on July 23, the global COVID pandemic has continued to raise doubts. 

Swimming Canada’s high-performance director John Atkinson hopes that by nominating these six athletes, his organization is offering, at least, some piece of mind to Canada’s top competitors. 

“These athletes have proved themselves and we congratulate them on this significant step toward the Tokyo Games,” said Atkinson in media release on Friday. 

Nominating these six, however, has not closed the doors to others, says Attkinson.

“What is being presented today allows us to have more options in an uncertain situation. 

“It gives us greater ability to nominate the best teams to represent Canada, and it gives the athletes greater ability to train and compete to make Team Canada.”

Penny Oleksiak, pictured coming at the 2019 world championships, won four Olympics medals in Rio, including gold in the 100m freestyle event. (Lee Jin-man/Associated Press)

Additional qualifying events

Those still looking to make the team will have two further opportunities, beginning with the Canadian swimming trials. Originally scheduled for April 7-11, they have now been re-scheduled for May 24-28. 

While the Canadian trials will be the primary selection competition, and additional invitational qualifying meet is being planned for June 21 to 23 in Toronto. 

In Friday’s release, Atkinson explained the decision to delay the Canadian trails as a chance to allow “potential Olympic and Paralympic athletes to have an extra seven weeks of training preparation. 

“We also hope for the organization of competitions to be planned in order to allow the invited athletes the opportunity to race before the Trials if possible.”

As 2019 world para swimming championships medallists, Aurelie Rivard, Tess Routliffe, Katarina Roxon, Shelby Newkirk, Aly Van Wyck-Smart, Nicolas-Guy Turbide, James Leroux and Alec Elliot have already met the standard required for nomination to Team Canada. 

Published at Fri, 22 Jan 2021 20:13:37 +0000