Canada’s women’s basketball team is missing one of its star players.
Hamilton-native and St. Thomas More Secondary alum, Kia Nurse is recovering from a sports hernia that required surgery.
But coach Lisa Thomaidis said the 20-year-old is on pace to be fully recovered in time for the Rio Olympics.
“Timeline is she’s 100 per cent by Tuesday, and cleared for everything,” Thomaidis said. “We’re confident she’ll be good to go when we get together in Toronto.”
The Canadian women, ranked No. 9 in the world on FIBA’s most recent rankings, host No. 8 China in three exhibition games at Edmonton’s Saville Centre on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Nurse will join the team on July 21 in Toronto for its final training camp before travelling to Rio.
Doctors discovered the sports hernia shortly after Nurse’s sophomore NCAA season with the UConn Huskies, and she underwent surgery.
“It wasn’t something she could work through and play through this summer, it was a necessity,” Thomaidis said.
Nurse attended part of the current women’s camp in Edmonton, Thomaidis said, which will help for a smooth transition when she rejoins the squad at full health. She also knows the Canadian team’s systems well.
“That’s a tremendous luxury that she’s been with us this entire quad, she can just jump in,” Thomaidis said. “What they do at UConn is something similar in terms of systems, and she was here for the first few days of camp, she got to see some of the things that we’re doing that are new. And she’s a very intelligent basketball player, it won’t take long for her to get up to speed.”
Nurse starred for Canada at the Pan Am Games, scoring 33 points to lift the Canadians to an thrilling 81-73 victory over the United States in the gold-medal game. She was chosen to carry Canada’s flag in the closing ceremonies.
A month after the Pan Ams, Nurse earned MVP honours at the FIBA Americas Olympic qualifying tournament in Edmonton that clinched Canada’s Olympic berth, scoring a team-high 20 points in the gold-medal game.