GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For Adriana Leon, the path to the 2021 Summer Olympics proved somewhat unconventional.?
Kind of like her path to the Florida Gators nine years ago.?
Leon, out of Kings Port, Ontario, will suit up as a midfielder for Team Canada in Tokyo just five months after breaking the fifth metatarsal in her left foot during the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando, an injury that required surgery. Leon played through the injury — and the pain — to help her team finish third and lock up a place in the Games. ?
Surgery was March 12. Rehab, basically, was every day since.?
Still, Leon will be wearing the red jersey of her country in Japan nine years after wearing the orange and blue jersey of the Gators, even if it was for a just a slice of a single season.?
Leon transferred to UF from Notre Dame, where she not only played for the 2010 NCAA champs but scored the the only goal in the Fighting Irish’s defeat of Stanford in the final. She reported to the Gators three games into the 2012 season after finishing up duties with Canada’s Under-20 team in World Cup play (also staged in Japan) that year. Florida coach Becky Burleigh said at the time “This is pretty rare to have a player join us this late. Actually, I don’t think it’s ever happened before.”?
In the near-decade since that one UF season, Leon, now 28, has been a regular for Team Canada, including appearances in the 2015 and ’19 FIFA Women’s World Cups.?
Now comes the big one. And she’ll be there alongside former UF teammate and fellow countryman Deanne Rose (coming soon to this space).?
Adriana Leon (91) in action against UCF during the 2012 season, her lone fall campaign?with the Gators. (Ron Irby photo)
AT A GLANCE
HOW SHE QUALIFIED:?Member of the 2020 Canadian National Team that claimed silver at the?CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament last year.
TOKYO SCHEDULE:?Team Canada plays first-round action against Japan on July 21.?
UF CAREER:?Leon played in all 22 games she was available after missing the season’s first three?while competing with Canada’s FIFA U-20 World Cup team in Japan. Once in a Florida uniform, Leon started?17 of her 22 games?and scored three?game-winning goals in league action (against Auburn, Texas A&M and Tennessee), which ranked third in the Southeastern Conference that year.?She turned pro after that single UF season, ending her Gators career with five goals and two assists for 12 points over 1,399 minutes.?
NEED TO KNOW:?In her team’s?Olympic-clinching match against St. Kitt’s and Nevis last year, Leon erupted for four goals in a 11-0 blowout victory.?
QUOTE OF NOTE:?”When you’re in that tournament mode, you just want to play. You just kind of convince yourself that it’s just like a minor thing and it’s fine and you can play through it.” — Leon, speaking of her injury, in March 23, 2021 story in The Canadian Press.
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