OTTAWA, July 29, 2021 – Swimming Canada and the Canadian Paralympic Committee announced Thursday a roster change to the Canadian swimming team for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, set to take place August 24 to September 5.
Tess Routliffe, a Rio 2016 medallist from Caledon, Ont., who was set to make her second Paralympic Games appearance in Japan, was forced to withdraw from the team due to an unfortunate injury she suffered in June while training for the World Para Swimming World Series finale in Berlin.
Danielle Kisser, Routliffe’s teammate at the High Performance Centre – Quebec in Montreal, was subsequently named as her replacement on the 19-swimmer squad headed to Tokyo. The native of Delta, B.C., swam inside the Tokyo minimum qualifying standard (MQS) for her event during the Para Swimming program time trials conducted across the country in May.
“While I’m heartbroken that I had to make this decision, I’m confident that this is what is best for me. Though I did everything I could to be competition ready for the Paralympics, there just wasn’t enough time,” said Routliffe, who captured Paralympic silver in the 200m individual medley five years ago in Brazil. “I’m choosing to focus on my recovery so I can come back better and stronger next year. After training with my team for the past five years, I’m happy I can continue to support them as they head to Tokyo while I proceed with my recovery in Canada.”
In Rio, Routliffe also made the finals in four other events, including the 100m breaststroke, 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle and 50m butterfly. The 22-year-old was named to the Tokyo 2020 team based on her stellar performances at the London 2019 World Para Swimming Championships, where she claimed three medals and set a pair of Canadian records.
“I am absolutely gutted that Tess has to make this decision. This was a personal health decision and that’s far more important than attending a championship,” said HPC-Quebec head coach Mike Thompson. “All of our planning for the last five years revolved around Tokyo and we had big plans. I’m glad that she has decided to take care of her long-term performance and shift the focus to next summer’s world championships and the Paris Games instead of trying to ‘fit a circle into a square hole’ during these Games. I’m just as heartbroken as she is, honestly.”
Kisser will make her Paralympic Games debut in the Japanese capital. At the 2019 Worlds, the 24-year-old posted top-10 results in the 100m breaststroke SB6 and 100m backstroke S6.
“This year is full of surprises. After the heavy emotion of missing the team about two months ago, we kept Dee training and focused to step in if we needed her,” added Thompson. “Here we are, she’s going to get her shot. I know that she takes this responsibility very seriously and she’s ready to show the world what she’s capable of.”
“I am so saddened for Tess that she will not be able to compete in Tokyo. Dealing with an injury is never easy, but I know it hurts even more so close to a Games. I wish her all the best in her injury recovery and hope to see her in the pool again soon. We are all behind her!” said Stephanie Dixon, chef de mission, Tokyo 2020 Canadian Paralympic Team. “At the same time, I would also like to welcome Danielle to the Canadian Paralympic Team. I know this is not the way an athlete prefers to be named to the team, but this is a great opportunity for her, and we look forward to having her in Tokyo and cheering her on at her first Paralympic Games.”