RIO DE JANEIRO — It didn’t take long for Canada to match its track and field medal total from the London Olympics.
Brianne Theisen-Eaton put a tough first day of the heptathlon behind her and fought back for a bronze medal Saturday on Day 8 of the 2016 Rio Games.
That equalled the bronze that high jumper Derek Drouin won in London, and highlighted another impressive showing from Canada’s Olympic women. The Canadian track cycling pursuit team also earned a bronze to give Canada 12 total medals (two gold, two silver, eight bronze). All of them have been won by women.
Theisen-Eaton, a two-time world silver medallist from Humboldt, Sask., was in sixth place after a rocky Day 1.
But solid long jump and javelin events allowed her to climb up to third spot going into the final event — the 800 metres.
Theisen-Eaton finished third in the final 800 heat to finish with 6,653 points.
“Going into this I wouldn’t have said, ‘Yay, I won a bronze medal,’ but I’m really really happy with it,” she said. “The Olympics is tough, if it wasn’t just tough to get here, there would be a lot more people competing at this meet. And so I’m really proud of myself and happy with myself, even if it wasn’t gold.”
Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam won gold and 2012 champion Jessica Ennis-Hill took silver.
Earlier, the track cycling team defeated New Zealand to win the pursuit bronze.
Montreal’s Kirsti Lay, Calgary’s Allison Beveridge, Georgia Simmerling of West Vancouver, B.C., and Jasmin Glaesser of Vancouver finished in four minutes 14.627 seconds. New Zealand settled for fourth place after finishing nearly four seconds behind in 4:18.459.
“I’m so thankful to be here with these four amazing riders,” Simmerling said. “I’m just so speechless.”
Simmerling is the first Canadian athlete to compete in three different sports at three separate Olympics. She raced for Canada in alpine skiing at the Vancouver Games six years ago before taking up ski cross ahead of Sochi in 2014.
Canada sat 11th in the overall medal table after Saturday, on pace to reach its goal of a top-12 finish.
Canada was unable to build on its impressive showing in the pool in Rio, missing the podium in two finals as swimming competition drew to a close.
Victoria’s Ryan Cochrane finished his Olympic career with a sixth-place finish in the men’s 1,500 metre freestyle, while the women’s 4×100 medley relay finished fifth, denying 16-year-old sensation Penny Oleksiak her fifth medal at the Games.
But there is potential for more Canadian medals in athletics.
Sprinter Andre De Grasse cruised to the semifinals of the men’s 100 metres. The world bronze medallist from Markham, Ont., was slow out of the blocks but turned it on in the final 50 metres to finish first in his heat in a time of 10.04 seconds.
De Grasse will be the lone Canadian in the semis after Toronto’s Aaron Brown (10.24) and Calgary’s Akeem Haynes (10.22) failed to advance.
Earlier, Genevieve Lalonde of Moncton, N.B., broke the Canadian record in women’s 3,000-metre steeplechase to qualify for the final, finishing in 9:30.24.
And defending world champion Shawn Barber qualified for the pole vault final, which will be on Monday.
Divers Jennifer Abel and Pamela Ware both advanced to the finals of the individual three-metre springboard. Abel, from Laval, Que., finished third overall with 343.45 points while Ware, from Greenfield Park, Que., placed ninth with 318.25.
The top 12 divers of 18 advanced to Sunday’s final. China’s Tingmao Shi led the field with 385 points. Zi He, also of China, was second with 364.05.
Also, the Canadian women’s rowing eight had a blistering start but faded down the stretch en route to a fifth-place finish.
The United States won gold in six minutes 1.49 seconds while Britain was second in 6:03.98 and Romania took bronze in 6:04.10.
Canada, which comprises Victoria’s Caileigh Filmer, Susanne Grainger of London, Ont., Natalie Mastracci of Thorold, Ont., Lisa Roman of Langley, B.C., Cristy Nurse of Georgetown, Ont., Christine Roper — a native of Jamaica who now makes her home in Canada — Antje von Seydlitz of Smithers, B.C., and Lauren Wilkinson of North Vancouver, B.C., along with veteran coxswain Lesley Thompson-Willie of London, led through the first 1,000 metres but couldn’t hold off the powerhouse Americans in the second half. They ended up with a time of 6:06.04.
In beach volleyball, the undefeated duo of Sarah Pavan and Heathen Bansley advanced to the women’s quarter-finals with a 2-0 win over fellow Canadians Jamie Broder and Kristina Valjas.
In men’s volleyball, Graham Vigrass and Gavin Schmitt both had 10 points to lead Canada over Mexico 3-0. Canada improved to 2-2 and is tied for second in Pool A with one match left in the preliminary round. The top four teams from the two pools advance to the quarter-finals.
In badminton, Michelle Li of Markham, Ont., won her first group stage match 2-0 over Laura Sarosi of Hungary, and Calgary’s Martin Giuffre improved to 1-1 with a 2-1 win over Portugal’s Pedro Martins.
Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., and David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., both shot a 3-over 74 in third round action to tie for 44th on the day in men’s golf.
The Canadian Press
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