Canadian Senior Women’s Basketball Team Member Kayla Alexander speaks on the postponed Olympics and COVID-19.

kayla alexander

The corona virus continues to spread across the world and wreak havoc on sporting events, both big and small. It has now forced the International Olympic Committee to postpone the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo to no later than summer 2021. The Olympic Games were set to start from July 24 to August 9th.

The IOC were originally supposed to have a decision come April, but national team federations such as Canada and Australia pulled their athletes from the Games and Team Australia even told their athletes to prepare for the games in summer 2021 before there was even a final decision made.

The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team was headed to the Olympics after they went 3-0 in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament. This was one of their best teams ever assembled as they had a mix of youth, experience and great defense and Team Canada was ranked fourth in the world, the highest standing yet.

Team Canada women’s basketball member Kayla Alexander was set to debut in her first Olympics this year and she took some time out of her day to answer questions regarding the Olympics, COVID-19 and the WNBA.  Recently,  she signed a standard contract with the Minnesota Lynx.

Q: As a Canadian Senior Women’s National Team member who was vying for a spot on the team, how were you training as COVID – 19 virus was becoming more and more serious?

KAYLA: When it was becoming more serious I was in season in Poland. Things progressed pretty quickly once the NBA suspended the season and the NCAA cancelled March Madness and all spring sports. Shortly after that our season went from the possibility of having a condensed playoff format to cancelled. When I returned home a decision had not yet been made by the COC and IOC, so I was doing what I could at home. My dad has some old workout equipment in the basement so our CB trainer created some strength workouts for me that I could do at home based on the equipment I had. I was also using the Nike NTC app for more endurance/cardio type workouts and yoga.

It was hard, but I am sure many athletes were trying to do the best with what we had. There is no way to replicate all of the skills and physical aspects required to play basketball, at home, so I could only imagine what other athletes felt not having access to pools, climbing walls, pole vaults, tracks, etc.

Q: How did you feel about the IOC still wanting to continue with the Olympics despite the global outbreak?

KAYLA: I think that they, like myself and I am sure many others, were trying to remain positive and see how the virus would play out. None of us know the future, and what would take place, so I think they were waiting and hoping that something positive would happen regarding the virus.

At the same time, it was frustrating not being able to train at the level that I wanted and needed to in order to prepare for the games. I can only imagine the stress this was causing fellow athletes, having to try to stay/ be fit, but also dealing with the unknown of what tomorrow held. I don’t think that the IOC would put the athletes, staff and the world at risk and expect us all to show up and perform if it wasn’t safe, and would have made a decision soon.

Q:  What was your real, raw reaction when you got the news that Team Canada was not going to send it’s athletes to the Games?

Heartbroken, sad and upset if I’m being honest. This would have hopefully been my first ever games. However, the leadership role Canada took as a nation, makes me proud of our country. I  respected their decision because it showed that their priority was to concentrate on the collective health and well being and take all necessary steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In due time, sports will bring the world together again, when it’s safe for each and everyone of us.

Q: Your thoughts on the IOC’s postponement on the Games to summer 2021 and how it affects your plans going forward?

I think it was the right call, we will all still have a chance to compete in the future when it is safe to do so. It’s also takes a little of the stress out of the situation knowing that we have at the very least an idea of when to expect the games instead of a question mark.  I don’t know at what extent it affects my plans going forward because at this time, none of us know the future, we don’t know how long until we find a cure, how long it will spread, when it will be safe again, etc. So I am focused on the present, staying positive and doing my part, and trying my best to stay as ready as I can for when sports are safe again.

Q: Finally, your thoughts on the WNBA season? Should it go on? What do you think the WNBA should do if you were the WNBA commissioner?

I believe Cathy and the league will make a decision when appropriate that prioritizes the health and wellness of everyone. We don’t know what the future holds, but I am sure they will monitor the situation closely and come to a conclusion soon. Being my optimistic self, I’d like to hope that the world quickly heals from this virus and the WNBA can proceed as scheduled, but the health and safety of everyone will always come first.

Canada ends their FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament with win over Japan

miah-marie langlois

The Canadian Senior Women’s Team ended their FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament 3-0 as they narrowly defeated a fierce opponent in Japan. Japan, who has already qualified for the Olympics due to being the host nation did not make this game easy for the Canadians.

They tested the Canadians and the two sides continued to battle back and forth all game. Team Canada was led in scoring by Kia Nurse who had 19 points and Natalie Achonwa had another strong game in scoring with 18 points and 8 rebounds. Achonwa was named to the All Star 5 after the game. Belgian star and Washington Mystics player Emma Meeseman was named the tournament MVP.

It was a hard fought victory for Team Canada and in previous years, that would have been a loss. Yet, Canada’s resolve to finish undefeated stayed strong and they were able to weather the storm when Japan had a chance to win the game on a three pointer (although it would not count if it did go in). Canada had to earn this victory and they should feel good about themselves because even with nothing on the line, they still managed to win the game.

Japan, should also be credited as they are getting ready to host the Olympic Games. That is a tough squad and with more practice, they should be a dark horse favourite for a possible Olympic medal. The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team will now disperse and go back to their respective overseas teams/colleges/back to Canada.

Canadians should get behind this team as this is possibly the best team Canada has ever assembled with a mix of youth, veterans and defense. They should watch the games and cheer them on when the Tokyo 2020 Olympics begin.

Canada punches ticket to the 2020 Summer Olympic Games with win over Sweden.

team canada

The Canadian Senior Women’s Basketball Team have punched their ticket to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. This is the third straight Olympic Games that the Canadian Senior Women’s National Team has qualified for. This is the first Olympic Games that the Canadian team can seriously be in medal contention. This is also why CBC Sports decided to air the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament because they knew this Canada team was good. Very good.

As for the game itself, Canada had a sluggish start. They had 11 turnovers. It was ugly. Canada led by six at half. Then in the third quarter, Canada’s offence got going as a team and Natalie Achonwa led in scoring with 16 points. Canada cruised after that because Sweden has a tight rotation and could not keep up with the Canadians. They were faster, defended better and were able to score at ease. It is fitting that Natalie Achonwa led the way in scoring, because she has been a mainstay for the Canadians since she was a teenager. She was apart of the new wave that has led to the team we see today that has veteran experience and youth.

 

Canada survives Belgium in opening game of FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament

kia nurse, team canada

The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team opened Olympic qualifying in Ostend, Belgium with a win over the host Belgium. It was not easy as Belgium was powered by the crowd as well as WNBA Finals MVP Emma Meeseman and her team mates. Canada was led by Kia Nurse who had 19 points.

Canada battled Belgium but was able to maintain a lead throughout the game and were able to hold on when Belgium started making a late push towards the end of the third quarter. Canada’s defense helped key the victory and Kia Nurse’s play making ability helped separate the Canadians and eventually Canada held on to win. It was not pretty however. Belgium made it it a two point game with about 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter and had multiple opportunities to tie the game but Canada was able to hold them off and Kayla Alexander made two free throws with about 10 seconds left in the game that ultimately sealed the deal.

Canada was tested in their first game and they were able to escape with a key victory as they only need one more win to qualify for the 2020 Olympics held in Tokyo, Japan. They now face Sweden on Saturday, February 8th at 2:30 pm EST and that game will be live streaming on cbc.ca as the game will be on tape delay on CBC which will air that game around 1:30 am EST. For Americans, the game will be available on ESPN+ and for international viewers, livebasketball.tv is offering the games.

Canadian Senior Women National Team Olympic Qualifying Tournament Preview

nayo raincock-ekunkwe, new york liberty.

The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team is set to face in the final Olympic qualifying tournament which tips off on Thursday afternoon in Ostend, Belgium. Canada will face Belgium, Sweden and Japan in this tournament.

In order to qualify for the Olympics, Canada must finish in the top 2 as Japan has already qualified for the tournament since they are the host nation.

Canada will be tested in this final Olympic qualifying tournament as Belgium, Sweden and Japan are worthy opponents.

Belgium, the host nation is ranked 9th in the world but have never qualified for the Summer Olympics before. They hope to change that led by Washington Mystics forward Emma Messeman who is apart of the reigning WNBA champions. Kim Mestdagh and Ann Wauters are also familiar names that will try to help Belgium make history. They will be a tough team to battle.

Japan, which does not need this tournament to qualify as they have already qualified due to the Olympic host nation, are ranked 10th in the world. They finished in 8th place at the 2016 Olympics. They will still be a tough team to face as they have nothing to lose and are using this tournament as a tune up for the Olympics.

Sweden, who is ranked 22nd in the world, has never qualified for the Olympics just like Belgium. They are led by New York Liberty forward/center Amanda Zahui B. Farhiya Abdi and Elin Eldebrink are familiar names that aim to make history.

Canada will be led by veteran forwards Kim Gaucher and Miranda Ayim and WNBA stars Kia Nurse and Natalie Achonwa. 5 players have played in the 2019 WNBA season (Achonwa, Nurse, Alexander, Carleton, Raincock-Ekunwe) and Jamie Scott has some WNBA experience. 2 players (Amihere and Pellington) are currently playing in college. Canada has tons of experience in this group and to view the final roster, please read the press release Canada Basketball put out today.

Canada faces Belgium on Thursday, February 6th at 2:35 pm EST/11:35 am PST on CBC Network and streaming online at cbc.ca. Canada faces Sweden on Saturday, February 8th at 2:35 pm EST/11:35 am PST on CBC Network and online at cbc.ca. Canada’s final game will be against Japan on Sunday, February 9th at 12:05 pm EST/9:05 am PST and that will also air on CBC Network and online at cbc.ca. To Americans, all three games are available to stream online on ESPN+.

Canada is ranked a program high of 4th place but it has bigger goals in mind as the team prepares for the upcoming Olympic qualifying tournament. It will face tough opponents in this tourney but Canada now has plenty of veteran experience, youth and grittiness within the squad that will help them obtain a top 2 finish and all of Canada will be able to witness it as it is available through CBC.

The 2020 Summer Olympics games will tip off from July 24th to August 9 in Tokyo, Japan.