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Anicka Newell, of Canada, gets ready to compete in qualifications for the women's pole vault at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Aug. 2, 2021, in Tokyo.

Matthias Schrader/The Associated Press

Saskatoon’s Newell tries to vault to the podium

Anicka Newell will take part in the women’s pole vault final at the Tokyo Olympics. The 27-year-old cleared a height of 4.55 metres in Monday’s qualification round, tied for the top mark heading into the final. Newell is a dual citizen of Canada and the U.S. who lives in Texas but spent much of her youth with family in Saskatoon. She came 29th in the event in Rio in 2016, so is guaranteed to improve on that standing in Tokyo. Other medal events taking place in track and field on Thursday include the men’s 20-kilometre race walk.

Burnaby’s Fan battles the wind and waves

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Hau-Li Fan of Burnaby, B.C., makes his Olympic debut in the men’s 10-kilometre open water swim. Also known as “marathon” swimming, the event is among the most gruelling on the Olympic program, and sees swimmers battle wind, waves and sometimes one another over the course of roughly two hours. Fan was a relatively late qualifier for Tokyo, making the cut with an 18th-place finish at a FINA event in Portugal in June. A former figure skater who switched to swimming partly because it helped his asthma, Fan will be in tough in the field of 26.

Andy Anderson, of Canada, competes in the Olympic qualifying skateboard event at Lauridsen Skatepark, on May 22, 2021, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Charlie Neibergall/The Associated Press

White Rock’s Anderson goes for park glory

Twenty-five-year-old Andy Anderson of White Rock, B.C., is Canada’s lone entry in the men’s skateboarding park event. Anderson qualified for Tokyo at the last possible opportunity, the 2021 Dew Tour in Des Moines, Iowa, where he secured an 11th-place finish despite suffering a torn meniscus during a practice run. It’s the first year for skateboarding as an Olympic event. The earlier “street” competition took place on a flatter course with stairs, benches, curbs and rails, while the “park” event features a more typical skatepark-like course, with steep curves designed to create maximum airtime for the competitors.

A role reversal on the soccer pitch as U.S. tries for bronze

After consecutive bronze medals in London in 2012 and Rio in 2016, Canada’s women’s soccer team will, as promised, change the colour of its medal in Tokyo. Canada will take on Sweden in the gold-medal match on Friday, but Canadian soccer fans could be forgiven for indulging in some long-awaited schadenfreude by watching their vanquished American rivals take on Australia for third place. The Canadian team exacted revenge on the U.S. with a 1-0 semi-final victory, nine years after a heartbreaking 4-3 last-minute loss in the same match in 2012.

It starts with a sword and ends with a laser

Despite its name, modern pentathlon is one of the oldest events at the Games, consisting of fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping and a combined event of shooting (a laser pistol) and cross-country running. In a twist this year, all five final disciplines will take place at the same venue, meaning a temporary pool will be set up at Tokyo Stadium and horses will be jumping on the soccer field. Canada doesn’t have an entry in the event, which kicks off Thursday with the fencing round.

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