TOKYO — Canada was left off the podium for the first time in nine days at the Tokyo Olympics, but the women’s soccer team guaranteed that won’t be the case on Friday.
Jessie Fleming scored on a 74th-minute penalty as the Canadians edged the United States — their longtime nemesis —1-0 in a semifinal Monday at Ibaraki Kashima Stadium.
That means the Canadians will win their third straight Olympic medal. And this time, the colour won’t be bronze. Canada finished third both at the 2012 London Games and four years later in Rio de Janeiro, and the team had stated that this time they wanted an upgrade.
“Back-to-back bronzes, we were kind of sick of that,” team captain Christine Sinclair said. “And this team, I mean, wow, what a performance, what a fight. Just so proud of our team, and one more to go.”
Canada will face Sweden for gold on Friday at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium. Sweden advanced with a 1-0 win over Australia in the other semifinal.
Canada remained at 14 medals (three gold, four silver, seven bronze), good for 14th spot on the medal table. Overall, Canada has the 12th most medals.
China leads the medal table with 29 gold, seven more than the United States. Overall, the Americans have the most medals with 64. China has 62.
The last time Canada and the United States met in Olympic soccer was in the semifinals of the London Games. In a wildly entertaining contest, the Americans won 4-3 in extra time despite a hat trick from Sinclair.
Canada’s previous victory over the Americans was a 3-0 decision at the Algarve Cup in March 2001. The Americans hold a decisive 51-4-7 record in head-to-head matches between the teams.
Canada dropped a 1-0 decision to the U.S. when the teams last met at the SheBelieves Cup in February.
“We’ve played the U.S. so many times but this time around we came into this tournament with the mindset of changing the colour of the medal. And we showed that. I’m just super proud of the team,” defender/midfielder Ashley Lawrence said.
Canada has a 5-14-4 record against Sweden, with the last result being a 1-0 loss in the round of 16 at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Meanwhile, it’s four up, four down for Canada’s top-ranked beach volleyball duo – and they’ve done it without dropping a single set.
Toronto’s Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan of Kitchener, Ont., remain perfect at the Tokyo Olympics after winning their round-of-16 match.
The Canadian duo dispatched Spain’s Liliana Fernandez Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo McMillan 2-0, overpowering their opponents 21-13, 21-13.
Humana-Paredes and Pavan, the reigning world champions, have won all four of their pool matches 2-0.
Canada is the only country with two teams left in the tournament.
Humana-Paredes and Pavan will face Australia’s Mariafe Artacho Del Solar and Taliqua Clancy in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.
That match will be held right after Heather Bansley of Waterdown, Ont., and Toronto’s Brandie Wilkerson play Latvia’s Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka in their quarterfinal matchup.
“Normally at this stage there would be two Americans or two Brazilians but you’re seeing two Canadians now and I think that says a lot about our program and our federation,” said Humana-Paredes. “I think as a country we should be really proud of where we are.”
Humana-Paredes and Pavan have been dominant since they first partnered together five years ago. They’ve reached the finals at 14 international events and won seven, including the 2019 world title and a 2018 Commonwealth Games gold.
In track and field, Totonto’s Matthew Hughes raced to sixth in the men’s 3,000-metre steeplechase in eight minutes 16.03 seconds. It’s the best result by a Canadian in an event dominated by runners from African nations. Vancouver’s John Gay was 15th.
In the women’s 5,000 metre final, Andrea Seccafein of Guelph, Ont., finished 15th.
Saskatoon’s Anicka Newell qualified for the final of the women’s pole vault with a successful attempt of 4.55 metres.
Earlier, two sisters from Toronto are through to the semifinals of the 1,500 metres.
Gabriela Debues-Stafford won her heat in four minutes 3.70 seconds ahead of Britain’s Laura Muir to qualify for Wednesday’s first semifinal. Her younger sister Lucia Stafford finished seventh with a personal-best time of 4:03.52 and advanced to the second semifinal.
“I have my eyes on something big in the finals, so I’m happy to get the first round done,” said Debues-Stafford. “I felt really good doing it.”
Natalia Hawthorn of North Vancouver, B.C., came in 10th in her heat and was eliminated.
Toronto’s Crystal Emmanuel failed to advance to the finals of the 200 metres despite a bounce-back performance that saw her win her heat with a season-best time of 22.74 seconds. Her semifinal effort fell short of her earlier speed as she finished sixth in 23.05.
There were some mixed results for Canada in canoe sprint.
Andréanne Langlois of Lac Beauport, Que., and Michelle Russell of Fall River, N.S., qualified for the 200-metre kayak single semifinals. Langlois won her quarterfinal in 41.728 seconds. Russell narrowly advanced, beating out Britain’s Emily Lewis by five thousandths of a second.
“I’m glad to be on the right side of the photo finish,” said Russell. “I had no idea where I was for the whole race. When we crossed the line, Emily Lewis right next to me, we’re looking at each other and didn’t know what was going on.”
The men’s team of Roland Varga and Connor Fitzpatrick advanced to the 1,000-metre canoe double semifinal.
But Simon McTavish of Oakville, Ont., was eliminated from the 1,000 kayak singles. The team of Alanna Bray-Lougheed and Madeline Schmidt failed to progress in the 500-metre kayak double.
In wrestling, Danielle Lappage of Olds, Alta., lost her opening women’s 68-kilogram match 7-0 to Russian wrestler Khanum Velieva and failed to advance to the quarterfinal.
“I was really confident, I had a good feeling and I just thought it would have ended differently,” said Lappage.
Also not moving on is the Canadian women’s basketball team, which needed help in Monday’s final slate of group stage games after finished third in its pool at 1-2. The Canadians didn’t get it and ended up ninth in the combined rankings, one spot out of a quarterfinal berth.
Away from the venues, Halifax gymnast Ellie Black confirmed she will participate in Tuesday’s balance beam final. Black’s participation was in doubt after she pulled out of last week’s women’s all-around final with a sprained left ankle.
— The Canadian Press