Five Canadian athletes to watch at Tokyo Olympics

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TOKYO — The Tokyo Olympics formally kick off with the opening ceremony on Friday. With over 33 sports contested at this year's Games, it can be easy to get overwhelmed with events to watch.

Here are five can't-miss Canadian athletes to keep your eye on through the Tokyo Olympics:

Damian Warner - decathlon

The decathlon is always one of the most suspenseful events at the Olympics, as athletes jockey for points and try to play to their strengths within the multi-faceted event. But with Damian Warner of London, Ont., ranked No. 1 in the world, Canadian fans can watch the decathlon with a medal favourite to cheer on. Despite having to do some of his training in an unheated hockey arena as a safety precaution because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Warner has impressed in the months leading up to the Tokyo Olympics. His most impressive recent accomplishment was winning the Hypo-Meeting in Gotzis, Austria, in late May, breaking his Canadian record there.

Mandy Bujold - boxing

Mandy Bujold of Kitchener, Ont., is an 11-time flyweight national champion and boxed for Canada at the Rio Olympics. However, she didn't qualify for the Tokyo Games after the Olympic trials for the Americas in Buenos Aires were cancelled due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Argentina. Boxers for the region were therefore selected by world ranking, but Bujold had missed the three events those rankings were based on due to her pregnancy. After the International Olympic Committee rejected Bujold's appeal, the Court for Arbitration in Sport ruled in her favour and on July 7 she was selected to Canada's Olympic boxing team.

Malindi Elmore - marathon

Forty-one-year-old Malindi Elmore of Kelowna, B.C., is making her first Olympics appearance in 17 years after the pervasive use of performance-enhancing drugs left her feeling disillusioned with middle-distance running at the highest levels. Elmore started doing Ironman competitions, with her time of 8:57:22 set in 2016 the fourth-fastest in Canadian history. But when her busy life as a business owner and parent kept her from training for Ironmans, Elmore started doing marathons in 2019. She crushed the Canadian marathon record in Houston in January 2020 — just her second marathon ever — to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

Brooke Henderson - golf

Already the most successful golfer in Canadian history with 10 titles at the highest professional level, Brooke Henderson is a medal contender at the Tokyo Olympics. The 23-year-old from Smiths Falls, Ont., is ranked seventh in the women's world golf rankings and is always a threat to win events on the LPGA Tour. However, at the Olympics the maximum number of golfers a country can have of one gender is four, with most nations only sending two. That has considerably weakened the field for Henderson at the no-cut, stroke-play tournament.

Sean McColl - sport climbing

Sport climbing makes its Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games and Sean McColl of North Vancouver, B.C., is Canada's charismatic entry in the men's competition. McColl is prolific on social media, posting videos of his workouts — usually set to music — on Instagram. If you're looking to be entertained, McColl is an athlete to watch.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2021.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

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