In the history of the Olympic Games, this will be the third time that Canada has qualified in women’s water polo. At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Canada qualified and finished in fifth place out of six teams. Then at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Canada qualified again, but once again finished in second last place, in 7th out of eight teams.
This will be Canada’s first appearance at the Olympic Games in women’s water polo in 17 years. Despite not participating at the Olympics in that time, Team Canada has put together two outstanding performances in women’s water polo at the World Aquatics Championships since 2004. At the 2005 World Aquatics Championships in Montreal, Canada won the bronze medal. That was followed by a silver medal at the 2009 World Aquatics Championship in Rome, where Canada lost a narrow 7-6 result to the United States in the gold medal game.
In the last Olympic cycle, Canada finished in second place at the 2017 FINA Women’s Water Polo World League, where they once again lost the gold medal game to the United States. This time in Shanghai, China, they lost 12-6. Then at the 2017 World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Canada placed in a strong fourth place. However, two years later in 2019 in Gwangju, South Korea, Team Canada had a losing record of one win and three losses, and failed to make the quarterfinals.
The Canadians qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021 by winning the silver medal at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. The United States, who won gold at the Pan American Games, already qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo by winning the 2019 FINA Women’s Water Polo World League in Hungary.
At the 2021 Women’s Water Polo World League, Canada once again finished fourth. They were led in scoring by Kyra Christmas of Calgary, Alberta, who had 10 goals. During the coronavirus lockdown period, Christmas trained in a makeshift, backyard pool built from hay, that was located in the backyard of her home.
Canada opens the women’s water polo tournament on July 23 with a game against Australia at 11pm MT. They will also play Spain at 4:50am on July 26, South Africa at 11pm on July 27, and the Netherlands at 12:30am on August 1. The United States appears to be the gold medal favourites, with Spain, Russia, Hungary and Australia expected to have the edge over Canada in reaching the Olympic podium.
At the last two Olympic Games, all eight teams in the tournament qualified for the quarterfinals as the tournament began with a seeding round. Now with the number of teams expanding from eight teams to 10 teams, this will no longer be the case, as the last place team from each pool is eliminated. The first of four quarterfinal games will be on August 2 at 11pm MT. They will be followed by three quarterfinal games on August 3 played at 12:30am MT, 3:20am MT, and 4:50am MT. The semifinals will be on August 5 at 3:20am MT and 4:50 am MT, the bronze medal game will be on August 6 at 10:40pm MT, and the gold medal game will be on August 7 at 1:30 am MT.