Sports

What to watch in sports this long weekend

The Buzzer will be off Friday through Canada Day. Here are some things to follow in the meantime, along with a few news updates.

Canadian track and field trials

Last night in Montreal, reigning hammer throw world champions Ethan Katzberg and Camryn Rogers cemented their spots in the Paris Olympics by winning the national men’s and women’s titles, respectively.

Tonight’s headliner is Olympic silver medallist Moh Ahmed in the men’s 5,000 metres. The marquee races on Friday night are the men’s and women’s 100m finals, featuring Andre De Grasse and ascendant sprinter Audrey Leduc, while indoor world champion Sarah Mitton competes in the women’s shot put.

Saturday night’s lineup is led by reigning world champ Marco Arop in the men’s 800m and rising star Christopher Morales Williams in the men’s 400. The closing session on Sunday afternoon includes Leduc in the women’s 200m final and several-times national champion Aaron Brown in the men’s 200.

De Grasse is skipping the 200, partly because the reigning Olympic champion has already run the qualifying time for Paris. He’s also achieved the Olympic standard in the 100, and the other stars mentioned above have met their criteria as well. So, if some unlucky accident should befall them in Montreal, they’d probably get a spot on the Olympic team anyway via the selection committee.

The pressure is much more intense at the U.S. track and field trials in Oregon, where for the most part you must finish in the top three to get an Olympic spot. Having already won the 100m events, American stars Noah Lyles and Sha’Carri Richardson look to secure their 200m entries on Saturday night.

In other track and field news, five-time Olympic gold medallist Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica announced she won’t defend her women’s sprint titles in Paris due to an Achilles injury. Thompson-Herah, 31, won the 100m and 200m in Tokyo to become the first woman to capture back-to-back Olympic sprint doubles, and she added another gold in the 4x100m relay.

Copa America

Tuesday night’s sweaty 1-0 win over Peru put the Canadian men’s soccer team in prime position to advance to the quarterfinals of the South American championship as one of the top two teams in its group. A win over Chile on Saturday night in Orlando, Fla., will definitely send Canada through, and even a draw might do as long as Peru does not beat World Cup champion Argentina in the other Group A finale that night.

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Lionel Messi’s team has already clinched a spot in the quarters with a group-leading six points after beating Canada and Chile, while Canada has three points and Chile and Peru have one each from their scoreless draw. The only other team to secure a berth in the knockout stage so far is Venezuela, the Group B leader. The quarterfinals begin July 4.

European Championship

The group stage came to a dramatic conclusion yesterday as the tiny former Soviet republic of Georgia shocked traditional power Portugal 2-0 to advance to the knockouts in its first major international tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo’s team still won the group and remains a top-five favourite to win the title, trailing (in order of best odds) England, Germany, Spain and France.

The round of 16 opens Saturday with defending champion Italy vs. Switzerland and host Germany vs. Denmark. On Sunday it’s England vs. Slovakia and Spain vs. Georgia. Monday’s matchups are France vs. Belgium and Portugal vs. Slovenia. Tuesday’s are Romania vs. the Netherlands and Austria vs. Turkey.

NHL draft and free agency

The draft takes place Friday night and Saturday at the Sphere in Las Vegas. Eighteen-year-old Canadian forward Macklin Celebrini is expected to be picked first overall by the San Jose Sharks after scoring 32 goals in 38 games as a freshman at Boston University and becoming the youngest player ever to win the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s player of the year.

Chicago has the second choice after landing super prospect Connor Bedard with the top pick last year. Montreal, at No. 5, has the highest selection among Canadian teams, while the just-relocated Utah club picks sixth.

Free agency opens Monday. The top unrestricted players on the market include Florida’s Sam Reinhart, who had a career-high 57 goals this season and scored the Stanley Cup clincher in Game 7 against Edmonton on Monday night. Panthers defenceman Brandon Montour is also available, along with high-scoring forwards Jake Guentzel (Carolina), Elias Lindholm (Vancouver), Jonathan Marchessault (Vegas) and Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay). Here’s Sportsnet’s list of the top 12 unrestricted free agents.

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In other NHL news, the Oilers announced that general manager Ken Holland is leaving. A replacement was not immediately named.

NBA draft and free agency

The first round of the draft took place last night in Brooklyn, where Frenchmen Zaccharie Risacher (Atlanta) and Alex Sarr (Washington) were the top two picks in an underwhelming class of prospects while Canada’s Zach Edey went slightly higher than expected — ninth overall to the Memphis Grizzlies. The 7-foot-4 centre withdrew from last year’s draft amid concerns that no one would pick him because of his old-school skill set, but he converted many doubters by winning his second consecutive NCAA player of the year award and leading Purdue to the national championship game.

With the 19th overall choice the Toronto Raptors took guard Ja’Kobe Walter, who led Baylor in scoring as a freshman last season. 

Bronny James, the 19-year-old son of LeBron James, is hoping to hear his name called in the second and final round, which began Thursday with the Raptors selecting University of San Francisco centre Jonathan Magbo with the 31st pick.

Free agency opens Sunday. The top unrestricted names include Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan, the Los Angeles Clippers’ James Harden and Golden State’s Klay Thompson, who are all in decline. The L.A. Lakers’ LeBron James and the Clippers’ Paul George could become free agents if they opt out of their contracts.

Former Raptor OG Anunoby declined his option with the Knicks this week but is reportedly staying in New York with a new five-year, $212.5-million US deal. Yes, there is that much money sloshing around the NBA these days as the league gets set to sign a massive new broadcast rights deal.

The Canadian men’s basketball team begins its Olympic training camp on Friday in Toronto. Edey is among the invites, along with NBA MVP runner-up Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Denver Nuggets star Jamal Murray, Golden State’s Andrew Wiggins and a host of other NBA players.

Canada will prepare for its first Olympic men’s appearance since 2000 with an exhibition game against the United States on July 10 in Las Vegas, followed by warmups against host France and a TBD opponent the following week. Canada’s first Olympic game is on July 27 against the winner of next week’s qualifying tournament in Greece. The Canadians will also face Australia and the winner of next week’s qualifier in Spain in the group stage.

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CFL

Coming off four straight Grey Cup appearances, including victories in the first two, Winnipeg is a stunning 0-3 heading into Saturday night’s game at Calgary (1-1).

On Friday night, undefeated Montreal (3-0) and Toronto (2-0) battle for the East Division lead. The other Week 4 matchups are Edmonton (0-3) at B.C. (2-1) tonight and Hamilton (0-3) at Ottawa (1-1) on Sunday night.

Wimbledon

The last Grand Slam event before the Olympics begins Monday on the lawns of the All England Club. Today, 19-year-old Canadian Marina Stakusic qualified for her first major. The draw for the singles tournaments will be held Friday.

Canada announced its five-person Olympic tennis team today. World No. 17 Felix Auger-Aliassime and 157-ranked Milos Raonic will play in the men’s singles event in Paris, while 30th-ranked Leylah Fernandez and 165th-ranked Bianca Andreescu compete in women’s singles. Fernandez will team with fourth-ranked doubles player Gabriela Dabrowski for the women’s doubles tournament while Auger-Aliassime and Raonic join up for men’s doubles. Canada’s mixed doubles team will be decided later.

Other stuff to watch in Olympic sports

* The Tour de France begins Saturday. Derek Gee, who will compete in road cycling at the Paris Olympics, is among the Canadians in the field.

* The Canadian men’s volleyball team was eliminated in the Nations League quarterfinals today by second-ranked Japan. The ninth-ranked Canadians are headed to the Olympics, where they’ll face No. 3 Slovenia, No. 7 France and No. 10 Serbia in the group stage. The Nations League playoffs continue through Sunday, with every match streaming live on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.

* The Olympics-bound Canadian women’s 3×3 basketball team is in Quebec City for a FIBA Women’s Series tournament on Saturday and Sunday. Canada made it to the semifinals of last week’s event and the final the week before that, both times losing to host France. You can watch the Quebec tournament live on CBC Sports’ digital platforms. Here’s the full CBC Sports streaming schedule.

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