What Canada did on Saturday at the 2020 Tokyo summer Olympic games
Gasping for breath after racing to her second silver medal of the Tokyo Games, Canadian swimmer Kylie Masse neatly summed up what it must be like to be an Olympian.
"It's fun. It's definitely painful."
The 25-year-old from LaSalle, Ont., was describing something very specific -- the 200-metre backstroke, the race she'd just completed in a Canadian record time of two minutes 5.42 seconds -- but her sentiments likely ring true for many elite athletes who empty the tank in pursuit of Olympic glory.
"It's going to be a stinger and you have to have stick it out and have faith in your training and trust the process."
Masse is a two-time world champion and two-time Olympic medallist in the 100 backstroke -- including a silver in the event four days ago at these Games -- but translating that success to the longer distance had been a long-term project for the swimmer.
The work paid off Saturday, with Masse touching the wall just behind Australian star swimmer Kaylee McKeown.
Masse's second silver was the fifth medal produced by the Canadian women's swim team in Tokyo. A sixth on Sunday in the medley relay would match the team's output at the 2016 Games in Rio.
"I don't think it will really set in until we get home and are able to kind of take a step back and realize what we accomplished," Masse said.
Overall, Canada has 12 medals at the halfway point of the Games (three gold, four silver, five bronze), good for 12th place in the medal table and in total medals.
China led the medal table with 21 gold, four more than host Japan, and was tied with the United States at 46 medals overall.
Masse's day may have been more "fun" and less "painful," but the same can't be said for diver Pamela Ware.
Ware, 28, from Greenfield Park, Que., impressed in the preliminary round of the women's three-metre springboard, qualifying in fourth place -- a position she maintained through the first three rounds of Saturday's semifinal.
Things started to go wrong for Ware in Round 4, when a lacklustre dive put her in ninth place -- still comfortably in the top 12 that would qualify for Sunday's final, if she could regain her form in the fifth and final round.
Instead, disaster struck: Ware stumbled on her approach and hesitated coming off the board, abandoning her dive before it started and dropping, feet first, into the water. The result was a failed dive, a score of zero, and a last-place finish.
Ware's teammate, Jennifer Abel of Laval, Que., was more successful, finishing an impressive third in the semis to book her ticket to the final, where she'll be looking for her first career medal in a solo event.
Abel, 29, earned a silver medal a week ago in the three-metre synchronized springboard event with partner Melissa Citrini-Beaulieu. She and former partner Emilie Heymans earned a bronze in the same event in London in 2012.
In track and field, Andre De Grasse cruised into the semifinals of the men's 100 metres, winning his heat in a season-best time of 9.91 seconds in the fastest time on the night.
Wearing sunglasses and looking relaxed in the blocks, the 26-year-old from Markham, Ont., turned on the jets over the final 50 metres to book his spot in the next round.
Running out of Lane 9, De Grasse glanced to his left with 10 metres to go before sailing across the line. His fast time is just 0.01 off his personal best set at the 2019 world championships.
"I didn't expect to go that fast. I wanted to just relax for the first round. But I saw my heat this afternoon, I was like, OK, I'm going to have to run a little bit, got an American in there, had a couple of other nine-second guys in there," De Grasse said. "So I was like, I might have to run a little bit."
The Canadian record is 9.84, shared by Donovan Bailey and Bruny Surin.
Earlier on the track, Marco Arop led wire to wire to win his heat of the 800 metres on Saturday and move onto the semifinals.
The 22-year-old from Edmonton looked relaxed en route to a time of one minute 45.26 seconds.
"Things went really, definitely according to plan, to go out in front and control the race from start to finish," Arop said.
"So I'm really looking forward to (Sunday's semifinals), looking forward to that race."
Arop's teammate Brandon McBride didn't qualify for the semis, finishing sixth in his heat in a time of 1:46.32.
In weightlifting, Canada's Boady Santavy lifted a combined 386 kilograms to take fourth on Saturday in the 96-kilogram weight class at the Tokyo Olympics.
Qatar's Fares El-Bakh set an Olympic record with a clean and jerk of 225 kilograms on his second attempt to clinch gold with a total of 402. Venezuela's Keydomar Vallenilla Sanchez and Georgia's Anton Pliesnoi took silver and bronze as both lifted a total of 387 kilograms.
Santavy, from Sarnia, Ont., lifted a finals-best 178 kilos in the snatch before making a 208-kilo lift in the clean and jerk.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Canada's Mackenzie Hughes and Corey Conners finished the day tied for 17th at 7-under par after three rounds at the Olympic men's golf tournament.
Hughes, from Dundas, Ont., fired a 6-under 65 to move 23 spots up the leaderboard. That's seven shots behind the leader Xander Schauffele of the U.S., but Hughes was still hopeful he could reach the podium in Sunday's fourth round.
"I know I'm still well on the outside looking in, but I do have a chance and you always have a chance until the last shot," said Hughes after his round. "I'm going to give it all I have tomorrow and we'll see what happens."
Conners, from Listowel, Ont., shot a 5-under 66 in the third round to finish the day tied with his Canadian teammate and 10 others.
The two Canadians will tee off in consecutive groups on Sunday morning.
For boxer Tammara Thibeault, it was always going to be a tall order to defeat her experienced opponent, Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands, in the women's middleweight quarterfinal.
Fontijn, the silver medallist in 2016 in Rio, ended the 24-year-old Thibeault's Olympic dream by unanimous decision after a close fight.
"She has been fighting at this level for a long time," Thibeault said of the Dutch boxer. "It was her experience that took over.
"Today just wasn't my day."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 31, 2021.