TORONTO (June 20, 2019) – Racquetball Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee have announced Canada’s racquetball team nominated to compete at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games.
The four athletes qualified for Team Canada based on their performances at the 2019 Canadian Championships that took place from May 19 to 25 in Langley, B.C. as well as this season’s results from the men’s and women’s pro tours and two National Team Selection Events.
Jennifer Saunders of Winnipeg, Man., brings the most experience to the team, having competed at three previous Pan Am Games. Saunders recently won bronze in women’s doubles at the 2019 Pan Am Championships and gold in both women’s open and doubles at the recent Canadian Championships.
“It feels great to see goals materialize and to be named to the 2019 Canadian Pan Am Games team,” said Saunders. “It is a true honour to wear the maple leaf and to be part of a multi-sport Canadian team. I had an incredible experience at our home Pan Am Games in Toronto and look forward to another Pan Am Games experience in the beautiful setting of Lima, Peru. Our racquetball team is bringing a lot of talent and medal potential to these Games.”
Frédérique Lambert is ranked eighth on the Ladies Pro Racquetball Tour (LPRT) despite taking most of the season off to complete her medical degree and will draw from that experience at the Pan Am Games.
Saunders and Lambert were the driving force behind the bronze medal that was won by Canada in the women’s team event at the 2015 Pan Am Games.
For Samuel Murray of Baie-Comeau, Que., this marks his first appearance at a Pan Am Games, but he has continued to gain important experience on the International Racquetball Tour (IRT), finishing the season ranked seventh. Murray also recently won both the men’s open singles and doubles titles at the Canadian Championships.
“I am very honored to have the opportunity to represent Canada at the Pan Am Games for the first time in my career,” said Murray. “My goal is to win a medal and perform at my best.”
Coby Iwaasa (Lethbridge, Alta.) was also a member of the 2015 Pan Am Games team, winning bronze in the men’s team event. Iwaasa also finished on the podium at the Canadian Championships, winning silver in men’s singles and bronze in men’s doubles.
“Representing Canada at the Pan Am Games in an experience that will never be forgotten,” said Coby Iwaasa. “For me, the Pan Am Games is the biggest stage I get to play on. It is amazing standing with all the other Canadian athletes knowing that the best of each sport is here. I am excited to play for Team Canada again in an event as big as this.”
Murray and Iwaasa teamed up to win silver this spring at the Pan Am Championships in men’s doubles.
Racquetball will take place August 2 to 10 (Day 7 to 15) at the Villa Deportiva Regional del Callao. There are six events in total, which include men’s singles and doubles, women’s singles and doubles, and the men’s and women’s team events.
Lima 2019, which will run from July 26 to August 11, will bring together approximately 6,700 athletes from 41 nations of the Americas and feature 62 disciplines in 39 sports. It will be the largest sporting event ever held in Peru.
The athletes and coaches nominated are:
1. Frédérique Lambert (Montreal, Que.) – Women’s singles and doubles
2. Jennifer Saunders (Winnipeg, Man.) – Women’s singles and doubles
3. Samuel Murray (Baie-Comeau, Que.) – Men’s singles and doubles
4. Coby Iwaasa (Lethbridge, Alta.) – Men’s singles and doubles
5. Michel Gagnon (Montréal, Que.) – Head Coach
6. Corey Osborne (Tiny, Ont.) – Assistant Coach
Prior to being named to Team Canada, all nominations are subject to approval by the COC’s Team Selection Committee following its receipt of nominations by all National Sport Federations in late June 2019.
Story and Photo: Canadian Olympic Committee