Canadian Women’s Water Polo Team Qualifies for Paris Olympics After South Africa Withdrawal

A last-minute withdrawal by the South African women’s water polo team has gifted a surprising Paris 2024 Olympic berth to Canada at the 2024 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

South Africa qualified for the Paris Olympics this summer by virtue of being the top team from Africa. But after placing 14th out of 16 teams in Doha, South Africa forfeited its Olympic spot, presumably for financial reasons.

That was welcome news for the Canadian women, who had just suffered an 18-12 loss to Italy in the 7th-place match on Friday, which determined the last Olympic qualifying spot. They went from feelings of brutal disappointment to shocking elation in a matter of hours.

“It was a rollercoaster,” Canadian team captain Emma Wright said. “Ups and downs for sure but I think once the dust settles obviously it’s really big that we got that spot at the Olympics.”

Paris will be the second Olympic appearance in a row for Canada, which placed 8th in Tokyo three years ago, and the nation’s fourth Olympic appearance overall.

“It’s so difficult to say what emotional state we are in right now because I think we went through all of them today way too much,” Canadian head coach David Paradelo said. “But of course happy that we can go to the Olympics and prove ourselves better than we did in this tournament. We are better, and the girls with all their hard work deserve this so much. And we’ll make sure that we make the country and this sport proud.”

In 2021, both the South African men’s and women’s water polo teams were told by their national Olympic committee that they would have to self-fund their trips to Tokyo. The South African men placed 12th out of 12 teams at the Tokyo Olympics while the women finished 10th out of 10 teams.

The women’s water polo portion of the 2024 World Championships concluded on Friday with the U.S. beating Hungary, 8-7, reclaiming the title after being dethroned last year. Italy beat the Americans in the quarterfinals last year in Fukuoka, halting their streak of four consecutive world crowns.

Leave a Reply

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

Read More »