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Five things to watch at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday, July 29

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TOKYO — From a pair of highly ranked Canadians on the opening tee to two pairs closing out group play on the beach, here are five things to look for on Thursday at the Tokyo Olympics.

Canadians among the bigger names as men's golf tees off

PGA Tour pros Mackenzie Hughes and Corey Conners make up the Canadian contingent of the 60-player field at Kasumigaseki Country Club. Both men are primed for success after strong showings at the British Open, where Hughes tied for sixth and Conners tied for 15th. The format of the tournament means many of the PGA's biggest names will not be competing, making the Canadians two of the more highly ranked competitors. Hughes and Conners have been teammates at every level of golf, even functioning as pseudo-teammates on the PGA Tour, practising together with a revolving roster of Canadians every week. 

New coach hopes to lead women's rugby sevens squad back to podium

Mick Byrne looks to lead the Canadian women's rugby sevens squad back to the podium in Tokyo, after Canada won bronze under John Tait five years ago in Rio. Byrne, 62, took over the job after Tait stepped down amid controversy in April. The Canadians open play at 9:30 a.m. Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET Wednesday in Canada), facing first Brazil and then Fiji. Day 2 starts with a showdown against France before the quarterfinals.

First women's canoe slalom medals to be awarded

Women's canoe events are being included at the Olympics for the first time, and the slalom finals will be held on Thursday. Haley Daniels of Calgary competed in Wednesday's heats but did not advance to the final. But she says she takes pride in being part of the fight to bring gender equity to her sport. 

Women's hoops team hopes to bounce back on the hardwood

Canada looks to get in the win column when they face South Korea in Group A action at Saitama Super Arena. The Canadian women opened their tournament with a 72-68 loss to Serbia. Canada's Nirra Fields led all scorers with 19 points, but the Canadians couldn't overcome a poor shooting night. The Korean squad dropped their opening match to Spain.

A double-dose of beach volleyball

Both Canadian duos wrap up group stage action in women's beach volleyball. Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson finish their Pool C schedule against Brazil's Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Santos Lisboa, while Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes take on Switzerland's Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich in Pool A. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 27, 2021.

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