Advertisement

‘Worst experience of my life’: Canadian soccer captain on Olympic final penalties

Click to play video: 'Tokyo Olympics: Canada defeats Sweden, takes gold after nail-biting shootout in women’s soccer final' Tokyo Olympics: Canada defeats Sweden, takes gold after nail-biting shootout in women’s soccer final
WATCH: Tokyo Olympics: Canada defeats Sweden, takes gold after nail-biting shootout in women's soccer final – Aug 6, 2021

Being on the sidelines while a massive game is being decided by penalty kicks is not something Christine Sinclair has experienced often during her storied international career.

That was the very situation the talismanic Canadian captain found herself in on Friday, as her team traded penalties with Sweden in the final of the women’s soccer tournament at the Tokyo Games.

Read more: Canada defeats Sweden, brings home gold in women’s Olympic soccer

While Sinclair was ecstatic about the end result — Canada outscored Sweden 3-2 in the extra session to capture its first women’s soccer gold medal — she was less enamoured with the process.

“The PKs throughout the entire tournament are like the worst things ever,” Sinclair said in a video conference Tuesday. “Unless you win.”

Story continues below advertisement

Sinclair was substituted in the second half of the gold-medal match, meaning she had to watch kick after nerve-rattling kick from the bench.

“I think it’s the first shootout I’ve not physically been a part of, and it was the worst experience of my life,” she said. “I wish people had a camera on Desiree Scott and I throughout that shootout, because we were absolutely going insane and having heart attacks.”

Click to play video: 'Golden goals: Families celebrate Canada’s first Olympic gold in women’s soccer' Golden goals: Families celebrate Canada’s first Olympic gold in women’s soccer
Golden goals: Families celebrate Canada’s first Olympic gold in women’s soccer – Aug 6, 2021

The penalties were an emotional roller-coaster, with Jessie Fleming putting the Canadians ahead early, only to see the team’s next three shooters miss the mark as Sweden took a 2-1 lead.

Swedish captain Caroline Seger had a chance to win it but her attempt went over the crossbar, and Deanne Rose, needing to score to extend the shootout, came through with a strong effort into the top corner.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: Olympic success could be a boost to women’s, girls’ soccer across Canada

Tied after five kicks, the penalties went to sudden death. Canadian goaltender Stephanie Labbe came up with a big save on Sweden’s Jonna Andersson, then Canada’s Julia Grosso buried the winner.

“Every single practice we worked on our PKs knowing that a lot of tournaments come down to them,” Sinclair said. “We worked on them, we had extreme trust in ourselves, then we had Steph Labbe in goal who was like a brick wall.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. soccer player Julia Grosso arrives home after Tokyo Olympics gold-medal team win' B.C. soccer player Julia Grosso arrives home after Tokyo Olympics gold-medal team win
B.C. soccer player Julia Grosso arrives home after Tokyo Olympics gold-medal team win – Aug 9, 2021

The gold-medal victory was the second game of the tournament Canada won in penalty kicks. The Canadians beat Brazil 4-3 on PKs in the round of 16, with Labbe stopping Brazil’s final two shooters for another dramatic win.

Story continues below advertisement

The gold medal is the latest highlight for Sinclair, who leads all soccer players in international goals with 187. She also led Canada to bronze medals at the 2012 London Olympics and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

While an Olympic championship would be the perfect cap to her international career, the 38-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., said she’s not ready to make any decisions about her future.

“Right now, I’m like: ‘I want to keep going forever!’ and then the next day I’m like: ‘Or you can just be done at the top.’ So who knows what will happen.”

Sponsored content