Denny Raincock said she will be anxiously watching her daughter Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe play basketball for Canada at the Rio Olympics from her Penticton home.
“I’m a little bit nervous,” said Denny, who stopped by the Penticton Basketball Camp on Aug. 4 to speak with her daughter’s former SFU Clan coach Bruce Langford. “Zika and body parts on beaches and the crime rate, etc. I have seen pictures of the athlete’s village and it looks very secure. She said the food is a bit dodgy.”
The Canadians are off to a good start in Rio. For the first time ever, the team has a 2-0 start at the Olympics and Nayo, who was born in Toronto and played her final years of high school basketball at Kalamalka in Vernon, has been on the starting lineup for both games.
Canada defeated China 90-68 in their opening game with Nayo collecting five points. On Monday, they mounted a comeback to defeat Serbia 71-67. Nayo scored seven points and grabbed nine rebounds, including a clutch put-back in the final minute. According to Basketball Canada she converted a three-point play to put Canada in front 68-67, then teammate Miah-Marie Langlois hit a three-point dagger in the dying seconds to secure the win.
“The pressure was huge,” said Team Canada head coach Lisa Thomaidis on the Canadian Basketball website. “Nayo was tremendous, and Kia (Nurse) had a huge effort tonight. It was amazing what she was able to do, she was a game-changer and she wanted the ball when the game was close and caused a lot of turnovers with her pressure.”
Denny, who was born and raised in Osoyoos then moved to Toronto after graduating high school and returned to Penticton three years ago, said Canada will have to get by the Australian and Spanish teams if they want to get on the podium.
Nayo is a rookie on the Olympic squad and Denny said her daughter is “absolutely flabbergasted and happy and excited and nervous” to make her Olympic debut. Nayo, who has been on the national team for five years, is surrounded by 12-year veterans.
“They are the heart and soul of the thing,” said Denny. “You come on there as a rookie, and you got to pay your dues before it’s evident that, hey she can play.”
Nayo completed her third season of professional basketball in 2015-16 with Wasserburg in Germany, who she helped win the Damen Basketball Bundesliga. She averaged 14.1 points per game in 29 games. After the Olympics, Nayo will head to Australia, to play for the Bendigo Spirit.
Denny encourages locals to catch the Olympic spirit.
“Enjoy it. When there are athletes excelling in your area, support them,” she said.
Canada next faces Senegal on Wednesday, the U.S. on Friday and then Spain on Sunday. Full Olympic schedule here.