Trading places: Humphries could become latest Canadian to switch countries

Two-time Olympic bobsled champion Kaillie Humphries won’t be the first high-profile Canadian athlete to represent another country if she gets her wish to compete for the United States.

While it’s not unique to Canada, some Canadians (or athletes representing the country) have moved on to wear the colours of other nations.

Deep ties to other countries, better opportunities elsewhere and financial considerations are among the many reasons often cited when athletes are asked about a change.

Here’s a look at some former Canadian athletes who decided to compete for other countries:

 

LENNOX LEWIS (BOXING)

The 1988 Olympic super-heavyweight champion for Canada, Lewis was born in London, England, before moving to Kitchener, Ont., at age 12.

Lewis carried Canada’s flag at the Seoul Games closing ceremony after becoming the first Canadian to win Olympic boxing gold in 56 years.

When he turned pro, Lewis moved back to England and was based in that country, where pro boxing is a much bigger industry. However, he has maintained close ties to Canada over the years.

Lewis went 41-2-1 as a pro, including a run as undisputed heavyweight champion.

 

GREG RUSEDSKI (TENNIS)

In 1995, Rusedski made the decision to represent his mother’s homeland of Great Britain.

The decision led to boos for the native of Pointe-Claire, Que., in Montreal at the Canadian Open, where he lost in the first round in 1995.

Rusedski reached a career-high world ranking of No. 4 and made the final of the U.S. Open in 1997, representing Great Britain.

 

SYDNEY LEROUX (SOCCER)

The 29-year-old Vancouver native came up through the Canadian system, but chose to play for the United States starting in 2008.

Leroux has a Canadian mother and American father.

There was controversy in 2013 when Leroux had an emotional goal celebration _ she popped out her jersey to show the U.S. crest and put a finger to her mouth as if silencing the crowd _ during a U.S.-Canada game in Toronto and then wrote a tweet about racial slurs.

U.S. Soccer said Leroux was not referring to racial slurs in Toronto, but rather to things she heard during an Olympic qualifying tournament in Vancouver in 2012.

 

MARK McKOY (TRACK AND FIELD)

Born in Guyana before moving to England and eventually Canada, McKoy won Olympic gold in the 110-metre hurdles for Canada in 1992 in Barcelona.

After the 1988 Olympics, McKoy was caught up in the widespread drug scandal and was banned for two years in Canada.

During that time, he moved to Austria and decided to spend the end of his career representing that country.

McKoy has since moved back to Canada.

 

ISABELLE AND PAUL DUCHESNAY (FIGURE SKATING)

Paul was born in France while Isabelle was born in Aylmer, Que., near Ottawa. They both had dual citizenship.

While they started skating for Canada in pairs, they switched to ice dance and eventually represented France.

The team won world championship gold in 1991 and Olympic silver in 1992 in Albertville, France.

Isabelle and Paul are members of the Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame.

 

OWEN HARGREAVES (SOCCER)

The Calgary-born midfielder was cut from the Canadian under-17 team before the age group World Cup in 1996.

With a Welsh mother and English father, Hargreaves had three possible countries to represent. He eventually chose England, making 42 appearances for the national team.

Hargreaves also spent time with two of the biggest international clubs _ Bayern Munich and Manchester United.

 

JONATHAN DE GUZMAN (SOCCER)

Born in Toronto, De Guzman joined a club in the Netherlands when he was 12.

The 31-year-old eventually gained Dutch citizenship and made the decision to represent that country in 2008.

De Guzman’s brother, Julian, also went to Europe as a teenager, but has represented Canada.

 

ASMIR BEGOVIC (SOCCER)

The 32-year-old goalkeeper played for host Canada at the 2007 U-20 World Cup, but decided to play for Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he was born, two years later.

Begovic’s family moved to Edmonton when he was 10.

Begovic was Bosnia and Herzegovina’s starting goalkeeper at the 2014 World Cup.

 

TONY ESPOSITO (HOCKEY)

A member of Canada’s 1972 Summit Series-winning team, the goaltender from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., decided to represent the U.S. at the 1981 Canada Cup, about a month after earning citizenship.

Then 37, Esposito got the Americans to the semifinals before they lost 4-1 to Canada at the Montreal Forum.

 

BRYAN TROTTIER

The Val Marie, Sask., native and former New York Islanders star decided to play for the U.S. at the 1984 Canada Cup.

Trottier has Metis heritage and expressed a desire to play for the country in which he lived and his wife’s homeland.

 

MIROSLAV ZAJONC (LUGE)

Zajonc defected to the U.S. from Czechoslovakia in 1981, but wasn’t eligible to compete for the Americans right away.

Zajonc was allowed to compete for Canada, though, and won gold at the world championship representing the country in 1983.

He eventually became eligible to compete for the U.S., at the 1988 Calgary Olympics and went on to coach the American national team.

The Canadian Press