Five Canadian Sports Stars To Follow In April
Canada boasts a strong and proud sporting pedigree. Or, it would, except that Canadians don’t boast. We like to wait until someone else says it – then we’ll enthusiastically agree. Mention names like Wayne Gretzky, Cindy Klassen, Marie Philip-Poulin, and Donovan Bailey, and you’d have immediate agreement that they’ve done the Maple Leaf proud over the years by outclassing their rivals.
The baton continues to be passed along today, with the current batch of elite athletes, of course, but also to the emerging stars who are freshly stepping up to represent their country on the world stage. In April, Canadian sports stars will be competing around the world from Australia to Monaco, and Bodog will be tracking their progress every minute along the way.
We’ve already taken a look at the Canadian stars that we think are set to dominate in 2022, but now it’s time to make our predictions in the more immediate future.
Let’s meet the Canada sports stars we’re celebrating in the month of April.
Originally from Listowel, Ontario, Corey Conners is currently Canada’s best-ranked men’s golfer. He turned pro back in 2015 and picked up his first PGA Tour three years ago, and was named the 2019 Valero Texas Open winner.
Conners also represented Canada at several major events, including the Eisenhower Trophy, (which is the World Men’s Amateur Team Championships), in both 2012 and 2014, the Aruba Cup in 2016, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where he finished just two strokes away from a bronze medal among the crème de la crème of golf.
Connors is set to have a busy April, starting with the Texas Open again, where he is currently the third favourite in Canada sports betting to win, with odds of +1800. He currently sits behind Jordan Spieth in second at +1400 and Rory Mcllroy, who is out in front with odds of +800.
Just a week later, Conners will be heading to Augusta National Golf Course in Georgia, USA, to take part in the Masters. At present, Conners’ odds for this highlight of the PGA Tour calendar are longer than for the Texas Open at +6600, compared to the favourite Jon Rahm who currently has +1000. Although the Canadian’s betting odds are a little way down the list, his skillset and history as a player is still on par with Tiger Woods. But we don’t like to boast, do we?
Andrew Wiggins has been a household name for several years, since his first season, all the way back in 2014 It’s hard not to be noticed when you’re NBA Rookie of the Year and selected for the NBA All-Rookie First Team. It’s impossible not to be noticed when you’re the first overall pick in the NBA Draft. There can be only one.
Wiggins has also represented Canada on the international stage, winning three bronze medals with the national team, with the most recent at the FIBA AmeriCup. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Having easily proved his mettle in college basketball with the Kansas Jayhawks, the Cleveland Cavaliers swept up Wiggins in the first draft selection though he eventually signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he remained until 2020. Since then, Wiggins has been gifting his skills and his solid 19.3-point game average on the court to the Golden State Warriors.
Andrew Wiggins is now part of a last-minute push to ensure the Warriors make it into the NBA playoffs. The team currently sits third overall in the Western Conference, and Second in the Pacific Division, which should be enough to see them through.
If they do make it, Wiggins will be vital in the Warriors’ charge for the NBA Championship. The team currently sits third in the betting odds at +650, behind the Brooklyn Nets (+550) and Phoenix Suns (+300).
Charles Jourdain is right up there with Canada’s top MMA fighters. He sports a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has been competing professionally since 2013. In that time, the Montreal-born fighter has competed in 17 fights: He won 12 of them and another was declared a draw, leaving only 4 losses to his name.
After becoming the TKO Featherweight Champion and TKO Interim Lightweight Champion, Jourdain joined the UFC in May 2019 at Fight Night 152.
This April, at UFC Vegas 52, the Canadian fighter will be taking on American Lando Vannata. Although the two fighters are very evenly matched on paper, Jourdain has the obvious benefit of experience in the featherweight class, having competed at this level for most of his career. It might just give him the edge.
After Jacques Villeneuve’s retirement in 2006, Canadian petrolheads had to wait more than a decade for another compatriot to become a tour de force in Formula 1. But then there were two: Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi.
Stroll is tipped to outrace Latifi in April’s Grands Prix. He’s been racing since 2017, which is quite remarkable considering he was “barely legal” at just 18. Oh, and he currently drives for Aston Martin – they have something of a reputation. Lance Stroll has packed an awful lot into such a short career, having competed in more than 100 Grands Prix races, culminating in a 13th place finish just last season.
This year, so far, Stroll finished 12th and 14th in the Bahrain and Saudi Arabia races respectively, but his team are hoping for updated specs to their cars in the coming weeks in order to drive headlong into the points-paying positions at Melbourne’s Grand Prix.
It might all be about Max vs Lewis at the top of the leaderboard, but there is still plenty to play for further down the list.
The semi-suburban Albert Park Circuit, which circumnavigates a large man-made lake, has also been freshly redesigned and resurfaced. Stroll’s Aston Martin should benefit from the conditions, with faster and more sweeping bends. While the Canadian’s Australian Grand Prix betting odds don’t position him favorably – a steep +100,000 – you never know your luck in a big city. A well-timed safety car or an unexpected downpour in the city known for having four seasons in one day could set a new pace.
With an ATP ranking of nine, Monreal-born Felix Auger-Aliassime is officially Canada’s best tennis player, ahead of Denis Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil. He turned pro back in 2017 and has seen success after success ever since.
The 21-year-old who now calls Monaco home reached the semi-finals of the US Open last year, and the quarter-finals Australian Open earlier this year, before going on to win the Rotterdam Open in the Netherlands after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4,6-2.
This means Auger-Aliassime will have home-field advantage while competing at this year’s Monte-Carlo Masters in mid-April.
The tournament is scheduled to begin on Saturday, April 9 and will run all the way to Sunday, April 17.
Auger-Aliassime won’t be the favourite going into the competition; that privilege will likely go to Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic, while Daniil Medvedev and Jannik Sinner will be at their heels. But if history tells us anything, and occasionally it does, a top-10 ranking isn’t prohibitive: the Canadian has won some stellar matches, and he’s only getting better.
April is going to be a big month for Canadian athletes, with these and other competitions kicking off around the world. So: F1 fiends, MMA devotees, golf gurus, tennis enthusiasts and basketball buffs – you’ll have plenty of local heroes to bet on. Make your picks with the Bodog Sportsbook and get ready for a month of sporting brilliance.
Image Credit: si.robi – Auger Aliassime RG21 (91), CC BY-SA 2.0