Courtnay Pilypaitis at her Glebe home during a visit at home in Ottawa. The 24-year-old is on the Canadian women’s basketball team. Ranked 11th in the world, the squad is aiming to qualify as one of the 12 Olympic teams at a tournament in Turkey that begins June 25.
Courtnay Pilypaitis achieved the goal she’s focused on for the past three years of her life.
Everything came together on Canada Day, as a 71-63 score carried the women’s national basketball team to not only a victory over Japan, and an Olympic berth.
“It was pure excitement from the moment the buzzer went,” said Pilypaitis, a St. Peter Secondary School graduate. “Being able to accomplish a lifelong goal with such great teammates was an unbelievable feeling.”
She not only played, but lead her team at the competition in Turkey. She was named Canada’s tournament MVP and led scoring with 21 points against Japan.
"I'd say this is the ultimate Canada Day. To come back after Friday's loss is nothing less than spectacular,” Canada Basketball president Wayne Parrish said in a press release. “Their resilience has been remarkable. It was inspiring to see the way Courtnay developed this past week.”
Pilypaitis has played the last two seasons professionally in Lithuania, and previously for the Gloucester Wolverines and University of Vermont.
The Canadians beat Mali in their opening game by a large margin, but lost to France in their second game, and then to Croatia on June 29 by three points.
They followed with a win over Argentina, so the team was in a do-or-die situation in their game against Japan if they wanted to earn a trip to London.
And once they did, Pilypaitis’ friends and family started celebrating back home, which she celebrated with teammates in Turkey.
“The reaction from friends and family has been overwhelming,” she said. “My Twitter, Facebook and email have been flooded with congratulations messages. It’s great to see everyone happy for the team and excited to watch us in London.”
The team returned home after the tournament for two weeks of individual training before they meet in Toronto for a few days of training before heading to London prior to the Games.
Canada has been placed in the B pool at the Games and will face Australia, Brazil, Great Britain, France and Russia.
“I don’t think it has hit me yet than I’m an Olympian,” she said. “But if feels great to know that I’m part of a select group of athletes.”