Water Polo Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee have announced Canada’s water polo team nominated to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
This is the first time since 2004 that Canada has qualified a women's water polo team for the Olympic Games. Only nine other nations will have the opportunity to compete in the Olympic tournament. The team’s qualification, achieved with a silver medal at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games, is the result of all the hard work and progress made over the past four years by the athletes and the coaching staff led by David Paradelo since 2019.
For some athletes who have been with the team for more than a decade and have lived through the disappointments of 2012 and 2016, this nomination represents a great collective achievement, but also a personal one. For co-captain Monika Eggens, who has been with the senior women's team since 2009, this is an emotional day.
"We are very happy to finally be able to fulfill our Olympic dream and represent Canada in Tokyo," she said. "Getting here wasn't easy and the last step of the selection process was perhaps the most difficult. I feel honoured to be one of the athletes chosen for Tokyo. But I must emphasize that our team goes beyond these athletes who will be at the Games. So many people have contributed to our goal and continue to do so. Our teammates, our coaches, our friends and our families have all been instrumental. Now it's time to show the world what we can do."
For the first time, Canada will send two female water polo players from the same family to the Olympic Games. The Wright sisters, Emma and Claire, will be part of the squad representing Canada in Tokyo. For Emma Wright, who is also a team co-captain, it is important to acknowledge the contribution of the entire group of athletes to this nomination and to recognize her unselected teammates.
"While not all 16 athletes who started this process with us will be at the Games, they have all contributed to our success. Each of them has played an important role and will continue to do so over the next month leading up to our final preparation for Tokyo."
Canada will see Cora Campbell, two-time Olympian and Team Canada's captain for the Athens 2004 Games, accompany her group of athletes to Tokyo, this time as part of the coaching team.
It was an unusual Olympic preparation for the team this past year. Isolated from their families for several months in Montreal and on the road training since the beginning of May, the Canadian players still managed to impress with their performance at their first international event in more than 18 months, finishing fourth at the FINA World League Women's Super Final in Athens, Greece in mid-June.
The team is currently training in Greece for the Tokyo Games. They will soon travel to Hungary and then fly to Japan to put the finishing touches on their preparation.
The Canadian water polo team will open its Olympic tournament with a match against Australia on July 24 (Day 1). The final day of women's water polo matches will be August 7 (Day 15) and will include classification matches and the medal matches. Water polo will be played at the Tatsumi Water Polo Centre.
"These water warriors are so fierce in the pool, but I have always enjoyed the excitement that our water polo team contributes to Team Canada as a whole," said Team Canada's Tokyo 2020 Chef de Mission, Marnie McBean .
The athletes nominated are:
Joelle Bekhazi (Pointe-Claire, Que.)
Kyra Christmas (High River, Alta.)
Axelle Crevier (Montreal, Que.)
Monika Eggens (Pitt Meadows, B.C.)
Shae La Roche (Winnipeg, Man.)
Elyse Lemay-Lavoie (Montreal, Que.)
Kelly McKee (Calgary, Alta.)
Hayley McKelvey (North Delta, B.C.)
Kindred Paul (Spruce Grove, Alta.)
Gurpreet Sohi (Delta, B.C.)
Clara Vulpisi (Montreal, Que.)
Claire Wright (Lindsay, Ont. )
Emma Wright (Lindsay, Ont. )
Amanda Amorosa (Kirkland, Que. )
Jessica Gaudreault (Ottawa, Ont.)
Marie-Eleni Mimides (Long Beach, California)
David Paradelo (Montreal, Que.) - Head Coach
Cora Campbell (Calgary, Alta.) - 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.