Olympic medalist and Canadian Filipino swimmer Kayla Sanchez has realized her wish.
The 21-year-old wanted to represent the Philippines, and now the Scarborough, Ontario-based athlete has the chance to do so.
On July 7, Swimming Canada, the national governing body for competitive swimming, announced that it has released Sanchez.
“Kayla has been a great team member, centre member and swimmer for Canada and we will miss her,” high performance director and national coach John Atkinson said in a media release by the organization.
“She brought such a positive energy to our teams, as well as great swimming. Our loss will be the Philippines’ gain, but we support her in this transition as it is the direction she wishes to follow for personal and family reasons,” the coach also said.
“We sincerely wish her nothing but the best in her future swimming,” Atkinson said about Sanchez.
In the same media release, Sanchez said that she is “forever grateful” for everything Canada has done for her.
“I am so thankful and appreciative of Canada. I wouldn’t be the athlete I am today without the support and how much I grew and learned,” Sanchez said.
“It’s just a point in my life where it’s time for a change. I am stepping into a new point in my swim career where I can start to focus on myself and at the same time I’m hoping to help people in the Philippines,” Sanchez said.
Canadian Filipino Net reported about Sanchez’s feat in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which was held in 2021 following a delay amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the said Olympics, Sanchez won two medals (one silver and a bronze) as part of the Canadian relay team.
Canadian Filipino Net related in its report that Sanchez’s father Noel hails from Mabalacat, Pampanga while her mother Susana is from Baguio City, Benguet.
Sanchez was born in Singapore and has called Scarborough, Ontario home since she was two years old.
The swimmer calls Scarborough, Ontario home. She was born and raised in Singapore before the family migrated to Canada.
Swimming Canada recalled that Sanchez learned to swim at age four, and began swimming competitively at age eight.
She joined Swimming Canada’s High Performance Centre – Ontario after the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The Canadian Filipino athlete has been a member of the senior national team since 2017, when she made her debut at the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Swimming Canada recalled that after achieving her dream of representing Canada at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Sanchez has been considering the idea of “representing her Filipino heritage at the highest level”.
“I’ve always been really proud of my Filipino heritage,” Sanchez said.
She continued, “Aside from how much I’ve grown and how good everything has been in Canada, I needed to make this really difficult decision for myself and my family to take this opportunity to represent the Philippines. I want to help inspire people that are like me to swim and get into the sport.”
The Canadian Filipino raised the possibility with Swimming Canada earlier this year.
Her last day representing Canada was June 25, 2022.