Canada’s top 10 athletes to watch at Rio 2016

From track to kayak to trampoline, just some of the events and athletes to watch for during the Rio Games

Andre De Grasse, of Canada, holds a flag after he wins the gold medal in the men’s 100m final during the athletics competition at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto on Wednesday, July 22, 2015. (Mark Blinch/CP)

Andre De Grasse, of Canada, holds a flag after he wins the gold medal in the men’s 100m final during the athletics competition at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto on Wednesday, July 22, 2015. (Mark Blinch, CP)

There is so much going on across so many disciplines during the 19 days of the Olympic Games that it can be hard to know what to pay attention to. To help you follow their journeys in real time, here’s a guide to the 10 most compelling Canadian athletes competing in Rio.

Andre De Grasse

Sport: Track
Hometown: Markham, Ontario

The great Canadian hope in track and field is Andre De Grasse, even though he faces some of the Olympic Games’ steepest competition. The 100-metre competition will feature one of the most decorated fields in recent memory. De Grasse is in form after taking first in the event at the Canadian nationals with a time of 9.99 seconds. De Grasse and fellow USC alum Aaron Brown are the only two Canadians since 1999 to run sub-10 second times. That said, the 4×100-metre relay or 200-metre might be De Grasse’s best chance to reach the top of the podium.

Mark De Jonge

Sport: Sprint Kayak
Hometown: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Mark De Jonge may be Canada’s safest bet for a medal in Rio, as he’s already an Olympic medalist, two-time world champion and world record holder. After just missing out on Beijing 2008 he bounced back to win bronze in London. Nobody will be surprised if he ups that to gold in Brazil.

Derek Drouin

Sport: High Jump
Hometown: Corunna, Ontario

After winning a surprise bronze in his first Olympic Games in 2012, Drouin won’t be sneaking up on the competition this time around. In the years since that breakout performance, Drouin has won Commonwealth and Pan Am gold and secured a world title last August, clearing a height of 2.34 metres.

    Fab IV Divers

    Sport: Diving
    Hometowns: Laval, Quebec and Greenfield Park, Quebec

    Roseline Filion, Jennifer Abel, Meaghan Benfeito and Pamela Ware comprise one of Canada’s strongest teams and each is an individual hope for a medal. Fillion and Benfeito are especially strong and are getting set for their third Olympic Games. Since London, the Fab IV have won 86 total medals — 18 gold, 36 silver and 32 bronze — in 24 events. They are expected to accomplish big things in Rio.

    Jen Kish

    Sport: Rugby
    Location: Ottawa, Ontario

    The Team Canada member most likely to set a national record for tweets written is Jen Kish. The rugby star is a fixture on social media when she isn’t dominating in scrums. Without face-of-the-program Magali Harvey on the team, Kish is likely to take over as the darling of the sevens team if Canada lives up to their third-overall world ranking and wins a medal.

    Rosie MacLennan 

    Sport: Trampoline
    Hometown: King City, Ontario

    The 27-year-old is the defending Olympic champion and has been steady since London, winning at the 2013 world championships and 2015 Pan Am Games. Defending her gold in Brazil is not out of her reach.

    Kia Nurse

    Sport: Basketball
    Hometown: Hamilton, Ontario

    Kia Nurse has been the player tapped to take the big shots on the UConn Huskies teams that won back-to-back NCAA titles and the Canadian team that won gold at the FIBA Americas and Pan Am Games. The six-foot guard will have to navigate her recovery from a sports hernia, but don’t be surprised if she’s the flag bearer by the end of the Olympic Games, reprising her role from the Pan Ams in Toronto.

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    Christine Sinclair

    Sport: Soccer
    Hometown: Burnaby, British Columbia

    Christine Sinclair has already said Rio won’t be her last tournament, but it will most likely be her last Olympic Games. Making it to three Olympic Games is a feat in and of itself — the accomplishment made all the more impressive by the fact that the majority of her 17 teammates were still in grade school when she suited up for her first. Sinclair is responsible for 162 of the 266 goals scored by the Canadian team heading to Rio. If they are going to match their heroic medal performance from London, Sinclair needs to both score and create more than her fair share of goals.

    Adam Van Koeverden

    Sport: Kayak
    Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

    One of Canada’s most experienced athletes in Rio, the 34-year-old’s resume already sports two world championship titles and four Olympic medals, including gold at Athens 2004 and silver in London. After finishing a disappointing third in the men’s K1 1,000-metre at the Pan Am Games last year, Van Koeverden has rediscovered his form in qualifying for Rio.

    Damian Warner

    Sport: Decathlon
    Location: London, Ontario

    At the 2012 Olympic Games, Damian Warner finished fifth despite having only been in the sport for a few years. Last year, he set the Canadian record (twice) and won gold at the Pan Am Games. His decathlon record times of 10.15 and 13.44 in the 100-metre and 110-metre hurdles, respectively, and consistently stronger performances than gold-medal favourite Ashton Eaton in the discus and high jump, make Warner a seeming lock to reach the podium.

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