TOKYO — Competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics started with a familiar sight — Canadian women's soccer captain Christine Sinclair burying a goal.
Making her 300th appearance for Canada's women's national team, Sinclair scored an early goal in what ended up being a 1-1 draw with host Japan in Sapporo.
Sinclair increased her record international goal total to 187 with the sixth-minute strike.
Still, in a competitive women's soccer field, Canada will rue a missed opportunity to pick up three points.
Goaltender Stephanie Labbe conceded a penalty and was given a yellow card after a collision with Mina Tanaka early in the second half.
Labbe appeared to be hurt on the play, but she stayed in to save Tanaka's penalty before being replaced by Kailen Sheridan in the 58th minute.
Mana Iwabuchi scored late to salvage a tie for the Japanese.
Sinclair spoke to her teammates on the pitch after the game to make sure the disappointment of blowing a late lead didn't linger.
"She brought us in a huddle, all of our heads were down," said midfielder Desiree Scott. "We were obviously frustrated with the result. She said, 'You know what? We have another game. We bounce back and we recover immediately. We get in the locker-room and we do all of our little bits that we need to do to get ready for our next match.'
"So in classic Sinclair fashion she was the first to reel us in."
Canada, winners of the women's soccer bronze medal at the last two Olympics, next faces Chile on Saturday.
Meanwhile, in Fukushima, Canada opened up its softball campaign with a convincing 4-0 win over Mexico.
Jennifer Salling had a homer and drove in two runs and Sara Groenewegen threw four no-hit innings for the Canadians.
Groenewegen was dominant in registering three strikeouts against just one walk in her Olympic debut three years after spending roughly 10 days in a medically induced coma with Legionnaires' disease, a severe form of pneumonia.
Canada next faces the United States Thursday at 9 a.m. local time (Wednesday night in Canada).
The women's soccer and softball tournaments got underway before the Olympics officially open Friday with the opening ceremony at Tokyo's Olympic Stadium. Women's basketball veteran Miranda Ayim and men's rugby sevens co-captain Nathan Hirayama will be Canada's flag-bearers.
Canada has a team of 371 athletes in Tokyo, which is its largest since the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
Softball and women's soccer are part of Canada's eight entries in team sports, which equals its record for a non-boycotted, non-hosted Games.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2021.
The Canadian Press