An Olympic medal is coming to Port Coquitlam.
Jenn Salling is set to retire from softball after stepping onto the podium for the very first time in her and Canada's softball career after her team held on for a 3-2 win against Mexico Monday night (July 26) — Tuesday afternoon (July 27) in Japan — to capture the bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
This represents the program's first-ever hardware in the sport since its Olympic debut in 1996 and upon its return after a 13-year hiatus.
At Beijing 2008, Salling was the youngest member of that fourth-place Canadian ball club after dropping a 5-3 bronze medal decision to Australia.
This year, the progress and excitement came full circle for the 34-year-old player — one of four veteran athletes from 2008 — and told media in attendance afterward that this was her last competitive match.
"A lot of emotion. Just so happy. Truly the best team in [my] entire career,” said Salling, who also contributed to the victory in more ways than one.
She recorded a bunt in the second inning against Mexico that got her on base and was eventually brought in at home plate by teammate Emma Entzminger to score Canada's first run of the game.
The hit also bumped up Salling's batting average to .571, the best of all batters during the six-team tournament at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium.
At first base, Salling made five of Canada's 21 outs, including one in the seventh to get to that bronze medal.
Canada rallied to a 3-2 round-robin record and were placed in the third-place game as a result. Japan won the gold medal, defeating the United States 2-0 in the final.
There was no playoff round after the preliminary stage this year due to the low number of competing countries.
Softball is not on the docket for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, but there's a possibility it could return for 2028 in Los Angeles.
Salling said post-game Monday night she wants to be back in a maple leaf uniform as a coach in hopes of seeing the sport back reinstated to the games.
Her love of softball started at the age of five in Port Coquitlam with its minor association.