Jul 17, 2024

Canada’s women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team from left: Kayla Sanchez, Margaret Mac Neil, Rebecca Smith, Penny Oleksiak. Photo by Olympics Canada.

Canada won its first Olympic medal on Day 2 of the Tokyo Olympics thanks to Team Canada’s women’s 4x100 freestyle relay team whose members.

Canadian Filipino swimmer Kayla Sanchez swam the leadoff leg for the four-member team that earned a silver medal.

Sanchez’s father Noel hails from Mabalacat, Pampanga while mother Susana is from Baguio City, Benguet. The 20-year-old calls Scarborough, Ontario home although she was born and raised in Singapore before the family migrated to Canada.

In a CBC tweet immediately after the silver medial win, mother Susana noted, “All her hard work and training since she was, what, nine years old – the ultimate Olympic dream is finally here.We just wanted her to learn how to swim, and look, now she's an Olympian – an Olympian medalist at that! We can’t ask for more.”

Sanchez won two bronze medals at the 2019 FINA World Championships when she led the team for both the women’s 4x100-metre and 4x200-metre freestyle relays. She qualified for the Olympic team by winning the 50-metre freestyle at the Canadian Olympic Swimming Trials in June 2021.

In 2018, Sanchez won silver medals at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia as a member of the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relay teams. That summer, she competed at the Pan Pacific Championships, winning bronzes in the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays and reaching the finals of her three individual events.

Olympian Penny Oleksiak pushed the team to the silver medal win in the final 100 metres. The Canadian team also includes Rebecca Smith and Margaret Mac Neil who, with Sanchez, earned their first Olympic medal while making their Olympic debuts in Tokyo. The team swam to a time of 3:32.78 to win silver at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre. It is Canada’s 50th all-time Olympic medal in swimming.

Australia won gold, setting a world record of 3:29.69. The United States came in for the bronze, just three-one hundredths behind Canada. According to a media release by Olympics Canada, this is the first time Canada has beaten the U.S. in this event at the Olympic Games.

Team member Mac Neil later won the gold medal in the 100m butterfly event.

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