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Canada’s Christine Sinclair breaks international goal-scoring record

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EDINBURG, Texas — Canada captain Christine Sinclair broke Abby Wambach’s world-record total of 184 goals on Wednesday, scoring for the second time against St. Kitts and Nevis at the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship.

Sinclair’s 185th goal of her career came in the 23rd minute. Left alone, Sinclair converted an Adriana Leon feed for the milestone goal

The record-tying goal came on a penalty kick in the seventh minute at H-E-B Park in south Texas.

Sinclair’s shot rolled to the right of St. Kitts goalkeeper Kyra Dickinson.

The 36-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., was playing in her 290th career game for Canada. Wambach, who retired in 2015, compiled her total in 255 games.

Wambach saluted Sinclair on Twitter after the recird-breaking goal.

“Christine: History is made. Your victory is our victory. We celebrate with you,” Wambach wrote. “And to every girl coming up in the Pack with a dream to achieve that which doesn’t yet even exist: We believe in you. Your Pack is with you. And history awaits you.”

The eighth-ranked Canadian women play Saturday against No. 51 Jamaica, a team Sinclair has already scored 11 goals against.

Sinclair, not one to bang her own drum, has downplayed the goals chase.

“To be honest, they’re probably looking forward to it more than I am,” she said Tuesday of her Canadian teammates. “I know how important this tournament is and how important the games are as we move on.

“Obviously I’d like to get it over with — in a positive way,” she added. “Just because I don’t want it to be a focus for the team in the coming weeks.”

Wambach now 39, broke fellow American Mia Hamm’s record haul of 158 in 2013 with a four-goal performance against South Korea.

Sinclair was 16 when she made her senior debut March 12, 2000, becoming Canada’s youngest-ever player at the time. She opened her scoring account one game later, beating star goalkeeper Bente Nordby in a 2-1 loss to Norway two days later at the Algarve Cup.

St. Kitts, ranked No. 127 in the world, becomes the 41st country Sinclair has scored on.

Sinclair scored goal No. 183 in November in Canada’s last game before the CONCACAF qualifier, a 3-0 win over New Zealand at a tournament in China.

Sinclair’s glittering career has already garnered the Portland Thorns captain a slew of honours.

In December, she was named the Canada Soccer player of the decade. Canada Soccer president Steven Reed called Sinclair “a once-in-a-generation athlete that has been at the heart of Canadian sport for over 20 years.”

Sinclair has won Canada Soccer’s female player of the year 14 times and led the Canadian team in scoring 16 years.

Sinclair, who led Canada to back-to-back Olympic bronze medals in 2012 and 2016, was named the 2012 Lou Marsh Trophy (Canadian athlete of the year) and Bobbie Rosenfeld Award (Canadian female athlete of the year) winner.

Canada’s flag-bearer at the London Olympics’ closing ceremonies in 2012, the veteran forward is a four-time finalist for FIFA World Player of the Year.

Sinclair is also the first soccer player appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada and the first to have her name engraved on Canada’s Walk of Fame.

She won WPS club titles with FC Gold Pride and the Western New York Flash in 2010 and ’11 and the NWSL championship in 2013 and 2017 with Portland.

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Penny Oleksiak back to lead Canada in Tokyo pool

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Penny Oleksiak, the first Canadian to win four medals at a Summer Olympics, will lead a Canadian swimming team eager to build on their efforts in Rio de Janeiro at next month’s Tokyo Games.

Swimming Canada unveiled a 26-member squad (16 women, 10 men) on Thursday that is a mix of experience and youth that officials hope is capable of improving on the six medals won in Rio, the country’s best haul in the pool since the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

“I think the mix of veteran leaders and new faces is awesome,” said Kylie Masse, a bronze medallist in the 100 metres backstroke in Rio and one of 10 returning Olympians. “That’s kind of how sport works, there are always older and younger athletes, and it’s a great dynamic to have.”

Leading the charge at the 2016 Rio Games was Oleksiak, who became Canada’s youngest Olympic champion winning gold in the 100m freestyle as a 16-year-old, while also grabbing silver in the 100m butterfly and two relay bronze.

The stage is set for a new star to emerge in Tokyo in 14-year-old Summer McIntosh, who edged Oleksiak in the 200m freestyle at the trials and breezed to victory in the 800m free.

At the other end of the experience and age spectrum is 37-year-old Brent Hayden, who came out of retirement to earn a spot on his fourth Olympic team, becoming the oldest Canadian Olympic swimmer in history.

Bronze medallist in the 100m freestyle at the 2012 London Olympics, Hayden clinched his spot with a win in the 50m freestyle at the Canadian trials that wrapped up on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)

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Sinclair to lead Canadian women’s team in her fourth Olympics

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Christine Sinclair, the all-time international goal-scoring record holder, was named to her fourth Olympic squad on Wednesday and will headline a Canadian roster at the Tokyo Games that features a mix of veterans and youth.

Led by Sinclair, whose 186 goals for her country are the most by a female or male soccer player worldwide, Canada won medals at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and was the only nation to make the podium in both competitions.

“I am looking forward to doing whatever I can to help take this team back to the podium and make history again,” said Canadian captain Sinclair. “Our team is in a good spot, we are excited, we are hungry and we are ready to go.”

The 18-player roster features 12 members of the squad that competed at the 2016 Rio Games while a quintet including Vanessa Gilles, Jayde Riviere, Julia Grosso, Adriana Leon, and Evelyne Viens will be making their Olympic debuts.

Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan travelled to Rio in 2016 as an alternate.

Canada will kick off their Tokyo 2020 journey when they face Japan on July 21 and continue Group E play against Chile on July 24 and Britain on July 27.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Which of the Canadians Picked in the 2021 NFL Draft Will Thrive This Season?

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It was a good NFL Draft for Canadian players in 2021.

Some four stars from north of the border were selected by NFL franchises in the free agency pick ‘em, and that is tied as the highest number of Canadians drafted in the 85-year history of the event.

Of course, the hope is that these young talents are more than just filler and roster depth, but can any of the quartet make the breakthrough into the big time?

Here’s a look at which of the NFL’s newest Canadian additions can shine in 2021/22.

Jevon Holland

The defensive back was the number 36 pick in the Draft by the Miami Dolphins, who beat off a number of rivals in the hunt for the Coquitlam native.

A versatile defender, Holland is a former Jim Thorpe Award semi-finalist thanks to his exploits in the NCAA back in 2019 with the University of Oregon.

He sat out the 2020 campaign, but representatives from dozens of NFL teams were in town to watch Holland go through his paces at the Oregon Pro Day.

The 21-year-old is following in the footsteps of his father Robert, who turned out for the Detroit Lions, and he is expected to force his way into the starting line-up at the Dolphins. And, who knows, maybe Holland could go all the way in his first season, with Miami priced at +2500 in the Super Bowl 2022 American football odds.

Benjamin St-Juste

When you’re six foot three, 205 pounds and still able to run 40 yards in 4.51 seconds, it goes without saying that you have the physical credentials to succeed in the NFL.

Benjamin St-Juste is the man that can, and he will bolster the roster at a Washington Football Team that will be looking to improve upon their playoff showing in 2020.

The 23-year-old may only have been a third-round pick, but he comes with a burgeoning reputation thanks to a successful time at the University of Minnesota. An All-Big Ten special mention in 2019, more than 50 NFL recruitment personnel attended the college’s pro day – largely to catch a glimpse of St-Juste going through his paces.

Both Brian Gutekunst and Jon Robinson made the trip but, in the end, it was Washington who snapped up the powerhouse from the Draft.

Chuba Hubbard

The third Canadian to be drafted in 2021 was Chuba Hubbard, who became the first Canadian running back to be selected from the Draft in 25 years.

It’s the Carolina Panthers who have taken a chance on the 22-year-old and with his credentials, you can see why. Hubbard finished eighth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in 2019 after a stellar campaign – he served up 2,094 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, an NCAA best. He was named the Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

While running backs are not the hottest of properties in the Draft, Hubbard provably has the talent to cross into the end zone with regularity – the Panthers might just have got their hands on an unheralded gem here.

With these three Canadians taking the step up to the NFL, the future of the sport north of the border looks in safe hands.

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