Ghislaine Landry steps up when needed most for Canada 7s team
When Canada's women's rugby sevens team was crying out for a cool head, team captain GhislaineLandry was there.
Great athletes stay in the moment. For them, time seems to stand still. The pressure that forces others to make mistakes doesn't apply to them. So even when time's up, as it was in the gold-medal game in Kitakyushu, there is still time.
Canada is lucky to have Landry. Year after year, tournament after tournament, she continues to put her body on the line. Landry shoulders the responsibility of both leadership and points — scoring as if it's no big deal.
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It is a big deal. But only a few can manage and sustain it. Canadian soccer has leaned on Christine Sinclair for 15 years. The expectation is ever present. Sinclair will lead Canada to the women's World Cup in a few short weeks knowing she has to perform. She will turn 36 during the tournament.
Landry is in the same boat. Next Saturday, she'll celebrate her 31st birthday. In the non-stop theatre of rugby sevens, pace is a lethal weapon. Handling the football is only half the equation. If you're short on speed, you're going to get caught. Like Sinclair, Landry is nimble enough, but who knows how long it will last.
The hope is as long as they want. I believe this is all about motivation. Yes, the limbs are a little more tired and the muscles ache a little more. That's just wear and tear. But Landry, and her teammates, have all the incentive they could possibly wish for.
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Canada's victory in Japan produced a 20-point bonanza. And this year, above all others, points mean prizes. At season's end, the top four nations will have guaranteed themselves a berth at the Tokyo Olympics.
Olympics in sight
The Canadians' success leapfrogs them into 2nd place in the standings, with a 20-point buffer back to 5th place. There are only two legs of the World Series remaining, and this performance puts Canada firmly in charge of its own Olympic destiny.
Her three tries were just the tip of the iceberg. Her ceaseless energy to support and willingness to make big tackles all over the field were a joy to behold. Paquin proved to coach John Tait, and more importantly to herself, that her selection was both timely and merited.
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Tait is certain there is more to come.
"I don't think we hit our stride in this tournament fully, and that's encouraging as we won," he said.
"If we can put our attack together with some of the defence we played, I think that's a lot of positives to come."
Farella adds to impressive resume
Bianca Farella certainly did her fair share on offence. The Montrealer touched down six times to pad her growing resume. With 24 tries, Farella leads the World Series try scoring charts. Not a New Zealander, or an American. A proud Canadian paves the way.
So Canada heads home — tired but jubilant and with home field advantage to come.
Langford BC, which hosts the penultimate stop on the circuit, should be packed to the rafters next month. Canada will have the chance to punch its ticket to the 2020 Olympics in its own backyard.
They are not there yet, but the road is getting straighter and the lights are getting greener.
While Landry is driving the bus, sit back and enjoy the ride.