University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s basketball coach Lisa Thomaidis is headed to the London Olympics.
Thomaidis, also an assistant coach with Canada’s senior women’s team, helped Canada earn the final Olympic spot last week at the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament in Ankara, Turkey. The tournament, which consisted of 12 teams, determined the final five teams who would compete in London.
Canada won its first game of the tournament against Mali on June 25 but quickly fell to a 1-2 record after losing to both France and Croatia.
One more loss would have eliminated Canada from Olympic contention.
The team pulled together, however, to cap off its Canada Day weekend in style. The squad upset Argentina 58-41 on June 30 and, in the tournament’s final qualifying game on July 1, it downed Japan 71-63 to earn a spot in Group B at the London Games.
Thomaidis, who is currently on a one-year professional leave of absence with the Huskies, has been an assistant coach with Canada since 2001. All her hard work has finally paid off as this is the team’s first Olympic berth since 2000.
“They say it takes 10,000 hours to make an Olympic champion. I suspect head coach Allison McNeill, together with Mike [McNeill] and Lisa [Thomaidis], have put in a lot more than that since 2002,” Canada Basketball President Wayne Parrish said following the team’s win over Japan.
In Group B of the Olympic draw Canada joins France, who also qualified at the tournament in Turkey last week, as well as Australia, Brazil, Great Britain and Russia.
Group A consists of Angola, China, USA, Czech Republic, Croatia and Turkey.
The International Basketball Federation currently ranks Canada’s senior women’s basketball team at eleventh in the world, but come July 28 when the women’s basketball event begins in London, Canada will try to prove that it can compete with the best. The gold medal game will be played on August 11.
Photo: Josh Schaefer/Huskie Athletics