Spotlight on diverse Canadian athletes
By: Vincent Tran
Published on: September 16 2022
Throughout Canada’s history of sports, there have been many great athletes to have come from and represent this nation in their respective fields. Through sport, these athletes showcase their hard work and determination in order to become successful and achieve higher status.
When it comes to successful and great Canadian athletes, diversity isn’t an issue. Many of Canada’s best athletes come from different cultures and countries and Canada has been fortunate enough to have many great athletes represent this country.
Here’s a look at some of Canada’s incredible athletes who come from diverse backgrounds.
The crown jewel of Canadian men’s soccer, Alphonso Davies, was born in a refugee camp in Ghana to Liberian parents, who fled the country due to the civil war. He moved to Edmonton, Alberta at the age of five and quickly rose through the ranks of Canadian soccer as he got older.
As he got better, he eventually made his way to one of the best teams in the world of football, Bayern Munich. During the 2019-20 season, Davies played a crucial part in Bayern’s treble winning campaign, with outstanding performances against Chelsea and FC Barcelona, and would later complete the sextuple, a feat accomplished by only Barcelona before them.
The 21-year-old has produced many highlight reel plays throughout his young career and looks set to dominate the world of football going forward. Davies is known for his blazing speed and runs that can change the course of a game. He primarily plays down the left side of the pitch, lining up as a left back for Bayern Munich and as a left winger for the Canadian national team.
Davies is now an integral piece to Bayern Munich, as well as the Canadian men’s national team. He played a massive role in helping Canada qualify for their second World Cup appearance in 2022, 36 years after Canada’s only appearance at the World Cup in 1986.
Andreescu was born to Romanian parents and spent the majority of her childhood living between Canada and Romania. She started playing tennis at an early age and quickly became one of Canada’s young tennis prodigies.
In 2019, she had an incredible rise at the age of 19 that saw her win her first Grand Slam title at the US Open, defeating none other than the great Serena Williams 6-3, 7-5 in the final. She finished the 2019 season with a career high rank of fourth on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) rankings.
Bianca Andreescu has since dealt with many injuries since her Grand Slam victory, but she is still very talented and is a name to keep in mind in women’s tennis for the next few years.
Mohammed Ahmed (Mo Ahmed)
Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, Mo Ahmed spent the first ten years of his life in Kenya before moving to Canada. He started running track at the age of 13 after watching his brothers run track at school.
Mo Ahmed made history when he achieved a silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the men’s 5000-metre event, Canada’s first medal at a long distance track event.
Ahmed is one of Canada’s best long distance track runners in history, with many accolades in the 5000-metre and 10 000-metre track events.
At 31-years-old, Mo Ahmed may not be competing for much longer, but he has made a huge impact on Canadian track and field and his name will remain in the record books for a long time.
Maggie Mac Neil
Maggie Mac Neil was born in China and adopted by her Canadian family at the age of one. She began swimming at an early age and would go on to compete in swimming events and Olympic trials as a teenager.
Her big breakthrough came at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics when she won gold in the women’s 100-metre butterfly. Mac Neil also won silver in the women’s 4×100-metre freestyle relay, as well as bronze in the women’s 4×100-metre medley relay.
Only 22-years-old, Maggie Mac Neil is looking like she’ll be one of the household names in Canadian women’s swimming for the next few years.
A Jamaican-born Canadian athlete, Donovan Bailey is a legend in track and field. Bailey lived in Jamaica until he was 12-years-old when he immigrated to Canada.
Bailey didn’t start competing professionally in track until he was in his early 20s and out of college. While competing, he was working as a stockbroker
Donovan Bailey reached great heights when he captured gold in the men’s 100-metre at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, setting a then world record time of 9.84 seconds. Bailey also won gold in the men’s 4×100-metre relay in those same Olympic games, anchoring Canada to victory.
Donovan Bailey is not only one of Canada’s greatest athletes and sprinters, but also one of the greatest track runners in history.
Born to an Ecuadorian father and a Filipino-Canadian mother, Leylah Fernandez truly represents diversity in Canada. Also having been born in Montréal, Fernandez is fluent in Spanish, French, and English.
Fernandez rose to prominence in 2021 where she had a dream run to the final of the US Open, beating the likes of Naomi Osaka and Aryna Sabalenka, before losing to Emma Raducanu 6-4, 6-3 in the final.
Still only 19-years-old, Leylah Fernandez has a very bright future in tennis and if she keeps improving, she can be one of the future stars in women’s tennis.
Milos Raonic was born in Montenegro and is of Serbian heritage. He moved to Canada at the age of three, settling in Brampton. He was introduced to tennis at a young age and rapidly improved over the years.
Raonic had his best career year in 2016, reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open and the ATP World Tour Finals, as well as the final of Wimbledon, however he lost to Andy Murray each time. He also finished 2016 ranked third on the ATP Tour rankings, his highest career ranking ever.
Today, Raonic is 31-years-old and has not reached the same heights as his 2016 season due to injuries and poor form, but his remarkable rise made a mark on Canadian sports history and paved the way for young male tennis stars like Denis Shapovalov and Félix Auger-Aliassime.
There are so many more Canadian athletes with diverse backgrounds that could have been included in this list, given how successful and impactful Canadian athletes are.
Without a doubt, there are going to be many more diverse athletes in Canadian sports in the future and many will surely make their mark on Canadian sports history.