Caleb Pereira ’23
Eight years in the making, the Tokyo 2021 Summer Olympics brought excitement to billions of fans across the world. For Canada, it was a tournament to remember as they collected 24 medals. Arguably, their most impressive medal came from Women’s Soccer as they won Gold for the first time. This was a hard-fought victory that gave veteran players a deserved medal and marked the beginning of a new generation of players.
Canada won the Bronze Medal in the previous two Summer Olympics (London 2012 and Rio 2016). However, with Canada’s legendary captain Christine Sinclair possibly playing in her last Olympics at the age of 38, there was a determination to finally win Gold.
Canada was drawn into a group with Great Britain, Chile, and Japan. They would finish second following draws against Japan and Great Britain and a 2-1 win against Chile with both goals coming from Manchester City forward Janine Beckie. However, Canada’s trip in the knockout stage would keep fans nervous all throughout.
In the Quarterfinals, it would be a rematch of the 2016 Bronze Medal game against Brazil. Both sides battled it out through 120 minutes, but penalties were needed. Edmonton’s Stephanie Labbé, goalkeeper for Paris Saint-Germain, would prove to be the deciding factor as she saved two of Brazil’s penalties, sending Canada to the Semi-Finals.
There would be no break from the stress as Canada met their long-time rivals, the United States of America, to decide who would head to the Gold Medal game. For Canada, revenge was on their mind as the USA had defeated them in the Semi-Finals of the London 2012 Summer Olympics. The saying “revenge is a dish best served cold” could not be truer, as Canada would win 1 to 0 thanks to a penalty from London, Ontario native and Chelsea midfielder Jessie Flemming. This sent Canada to their first-ever Gold Medal game and a chance at history.
The Swedes controlled much of the first half, allowing forward Stina Blackstenius to open the scoring in minute 34. Canada entered the second half determined to tie the game and were awarded a penalty after 68 minutes after Burnaby native and Portland Thorns striker Christine Sinclair was fouled in the 18-yard box. Jessie Flemming would once again score, levelling the game at 1-1. Both sides would need penalties to decide who would win the Gold Medal. In what was one of the craziest penalty shootouts of recent memory: both teams missed three times. Ultimately, midfielder Julia Grosso buried the winning penalty for Canada, winning them their first-ever Olympic Gold Medal.
The Tokyo Olympics would mark a historic achievement in Canadian soccer, and finally saw some players become champions. Players like Winnipeg’s Desiree Scott and Christine Sinclair achieved the success they had long been seeking. However, the future of Canadian soccer remains strong, led by Jessie Flemmings, Janine Beckie, and many other young Canadians. It is without a doubt that this Gold Medal will inspire a strong future for soccer across the country.
Photo Credit: Canadasoccer.com