Barrie's Kaili Lukan sets her sights on gold at the Tokyo Olympic games
All her life Kaili Lukan has followed in her sister Megan's footsteps, from her high school basketball and rugby days at Barrie Central Collegiate to an athletic scholarship in the U.S., and now the Olympic Games in Tokyo as a member of Canada's Women's Sevens team.
Lukan began her Olympic journey Wednesday in Tokyo, picking up where her older sister left off with a bronze medal result in rugby at the Rio games in 2016.
"I do send her messages every day leading up to this. She knows what to do. She's prepared for this," Megan said of her sister.
Steve Porter coached the basketball and rugby teams at Barrie Central Collegiate when Kaili and her sister attended.
"I'm absolutely thrilled... over the moon. It's pretty awesome. I can't wait to see how they do," said Porter.
"Between Megan and Kaili, it's a 1A, 1B as far as how tight we were. I spent a lot of time with Kaili in her senior year, so for me to see all the successes, she's had and be able to represent Canada, that's always been her dream," her former coach added.
Kaili earned a scholarship to play basketball for the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. She represented Canada on the hardcourt before making the switch to play rugby in 2016.
Now a member of the Canadian Women's Rugby Sevens squad, Kaili is poised to strike gold on the biggest stage in sports with no fans in attendance due to COVID-19 restrictions in place in Japan.
Still, that's not stopping her family and friends from cheering her on from the homefront.
"Kaili's two sisters, Aliska and Megan, and myself had already planned to be in Tokyo for these Olympics, but now we've got a larger contingent who are supporting her from home," said her mother, Margaret Mulder.
"It's a dream come true. I had no idea that they would get to this level. She's followed in Megan's footsteps for many, many years, but she's definitely standing on her own two feet," her mom said.
Her sister Megan believes Kaili and her teammates have what it takes to top the world in Tokyo.
"Because by all means they're physically talented to be there and could easily walk away with any medal. I think what's going to be the difference-maker is their teamwork together," she said.
Following their opener against Brazil, Lukan and Team Canada play a doubleheader Thursday morning and evening against Fiji and France. Her family is crossing its collective fingers she'll be playing for gold on Saturday.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise, many doctors believe we are in the midst of a fourth wave, with a vast majority of the new cases in unvaccinated people.
Metrolinx's plan for providing an all-day GO Train service from Barrie to Bradford is still on track and now it's preparing to expand even more.
The City of Barrie has its sights set on hosting the 2023 Brier, one of curling's biggest annual events.