LIMA, Peru — The Canadian women’s water polo team has secured a berth in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Canada booked its first Summer Games ticket since 2004 after the semifinals of the Pan American Games on Friday.
A 19-5 win over Brazil combined with the United States’ 31-7 victory over Cuba gave Canada the spot.
An Olympic spot was reserved for the Pan Am winner, but Canada got it because the U.S., already locked up its Olympic berth by winning the 2019 FINA World League.
"Honestly, words can’t really express what I feel," said Canada’s Joelle Bekhazi, who had three goals against Brazil.
"It’s been a really long road and we worked really hard."
Montreal’s Axelle Crevier led Canada with four goals against Brazil.
"It means so much to me. In my head, it’s eight years on hard work that we’ve all put together as a team," said Canada captain Jessica Gaudreault.
"So to come out really strong and dominate in that game, it really meant a lot."
Canada finished fourth at the most recent world championship in 2017.
Canada will face the Americans in the gold-medal game on Saturday.
The Canadian men’s team, meanwhile, also advanced to the final with an 8-7 win over Brazil.
Jeremie Cote of Pointe-Claire, Que., and Nicolas Constantin-Bicari of Repentigny, Que., had two goals apiece for Canada.
The Canadians will play the U.S. in Saturday’s final, with the winner earning an Olympic spot.
The Canadian women’s team upset the reigning world champion United States 3-2 in the semifinals.
Emma Enzminger, Jennifer Salling and Kaleigh Rafter drove in runs for Canada.
Jenna Caira got the win in relief and Danielle Lawrie picked up the save.
The U.S., will face Puerto Rico on Saturday for the right to play Canada in the final later in the day.
The Olympic qualifier for the sport starts later this month in Surrey, B.C.
Canadian rowers captured two gold medals on the second-last day of the competition.
Jessica Sevick of Strathmore, Alta., won the women’s single, while Kate Haber of Owen Sound, Ont., and Jaclyn Stelmaszyk of Uxbridge, Ont., took gold in the lightweight women’s double.
It was Saber’s second Pan Am gold in a race.
"We both are coming back from having a child in 2017. It’s really cool to be able to come back from that and defend the title," she said. "This is my first time away (from her child) and it’s like a little vacation. Now I’ve had really good sleep and I’m tapered and I have so much energy, it’s amazing."
Canada’s Eric Peters upset world-record holder Brady Ellison of the United States in the men’s individual recurve quarterfinals.
"I’m ecstatic," the Ottawa native said. "That’s probably some of the best shooting that I’ve ever done and it’s right at the right time."
Peters will face Crispin Duenas of Toronto in an all-Canadian semifinal on Sunday.
Duenas had bronchitis at the 2015 Pan Ams and lost his first match after winning silver at the past two Games.
TRACK AND FIELD
Toronto’s Brittany Crew broke her own Canadian record in the women’s shot put en route to a silver medal.
Crew notched 19.07 metres, finishing behind Danniel Thomas of Jamaica. Crew’s previous best was 18.69 metres.
Meanwhile, Vancouver’s Liz Gleadle won silver in the women’s javelin.
Gleadle had a toss of 63.30 metres. American Kara Winger won at 64.92.
In the men’s high jump, Michael Mason of Nanoose Bay, B.C., took silver with a leap of 2.28 metres.
In the women’s 5,000 metres, Jessica O’Connell of Calgary also captured a silver medal.
Another silver went to Canada’s 4×100-metre women’s relay team.
Canada took bronze in the men’s foil and women’s sabre team competitions.
Eli Schenkel, Maximilien Van Haaster and Misha Sweet made up the men’s team, while Gabriella Page, Marissa Ponich and Pamela Brind’Amour formed the women’s team.
Toronto’s Sarah Douglas took gold in the women’s dinghy race.
Douglas beat out American Charlotte Rose and Argentina’s Lucia Falasca.
Alex Heninzmann of Delta, B.C., and Justin Barnes of Pickering, Ont., won a bronze medal in the men’s skiff race.
Justina Di Stasio led Canada to a three-medal night.
The Vancouver native won gold in the 76-kilogram women’s event. Di Stasio, who won silver at the 2015 Pan Ams, is the reigning world champ in 78 kg.
Olivia Di Bacco of Orillia, Ont., took silver in the women’s 68 kg, while Darthe Capellan of Surrey, B.C., won bronze in the men’s 57 kg.