Natalie Achonwa, Canada Qualify For London Olympics

Author: Mendoza College

For the second time in the past three Summer Olympics, a Notre Dame women's basketball player will represent her country on the world's biggest athletic stage, as junior forward Natalie Achonwa (Guelph, Ontario/St. Mary's Catholic) and the Canada Senior Women's National Team successfully qualified for the 2012 London Olympics on Sunday afternoon with a 71-63 win over Japan in the final game of the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Ankara, Turkey.

Achonwa (pronounced uh-CHAWN-wuh) follows in the footsteps of former Notre Dame All-America center and 2001 consensus National Player of the Year Ruth Riley, who earned a gold medal as a member of the 2004 United States Olympic Team, that rolled through the competition in Athens, Greece. It will be Canada's first Olympic appearance since 2000 Sydney Olympics (when it finished in 10th place), and this year's Olympic bid was made all the more sweet as it came on Canada Day, a national holiday that is largely equivalent to Independence Day in the United States.

Achonwa played in four of Canada's five games at the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament this past week in Turkey, missing the final game with an ankle injury suffered Saturday during her team's 58-41 semifinal win over Argentina. Prior to her injury, Achonwa averaged 4.5 points per game in a reserve role for the Canadians, and she is expected to be cleared to resume competition well before her country begins action at the Olympics later this month.

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