By Keaton Hills
After helping Canada qualify for the 2024 Olympics, Maddy Grant’s mindset for the next year leading up to the Paris 2024 Games is to put her head down and work.
Canada clinched a women’s rugby sevens berth thanks to a dominant showing at the Aug. 19-20 Rugby Americas North Sevens Paris 2024 Qualification Event in Langford, B.C.
With USA already qualified, the host Canadians were the heavy favourites at the competition, and they showed just why by outscoring their opponents by a combined total of 288-5 in five games.
Grant scored two of her tries in the 53-0 championship game victory over Mexico to cue the celebrations on the field the national team trains on every day.
“We had fans and supporters all across Canada come so it was such an electric atmosphere,” recounts Grant. “There was so much energy going into the weekend already from the team. Overall it was an incredible experience being able to qualify in front of our friends and family. It was a really special moment.”
Cracking the 12-member Canadian women’s rugby sevens lineup a year outside the Olympics was a major career milestone for the 22-year-old University of Ottawa Gee-Gees product from Cornwall.
Duncan McNaughton, who returns to lead the Gee-Gees the season, coached Grant when she played for the U18 national team and the senior 15s team. He says that Grant has exceptional athletic genes and competes for the fun of playing the game.
“She is an incredibly balanced runner and changes direction effortlessly, and with world class speed, it really makes her extremely hard to defend against,” adds McNaughton.
Grant will be shifting her focus to 15s play for the next couple months, with two friendly matches coming up against England in September. Those tests will serve as preparation for the WXV world championship competition in October and November, which Team Canada qualified for in Ottawa earlier this summer.
Raising her game to be among the very best in the world is Grant’s primary daily focus. Her next goal will be to become an Olympian with Team Canada for the Paris Games.
“The Olympics have been a dream of mine since I was a little kid,” underlines Grant. “Just knowing my ‘why’ and just keep relating back to that is so important because through the hard times, through the pressure, through everything, you need to reflect on why you do it and why you push yourself to the extremes to get to the Olympics.”
After having meniscus knee surgery three months ago, local Tokyo Olympian Pam Buisa didn’t play for Canada at the qualifier, but remains a solid candidate for to make the Paris 2024 team. The 26-year-old Ottawa Irish product did make it out on the field to join in the team’s celebrations.
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