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Posted: August 7, 2006

Athletics: Canadian Track & Field Championships: Highs and Lows

Meet Director Andy McInnis - Photo: Steve Bower for RunnersWeb.com

Andy McInnis can put away his Elvis shirt. It’s time to leave the building.

For the Director of this year’s Canadian Track and Field Championships who artfully donned a different Elvis every day of this year’s meet at the Terry Fox Athletic facility at Mooney’s Bay (August 4-6), a little Guiness and some Bossa Nova is overdue.

He deserves it, after all.

He and his Ottawa Lions crew put in a stellar performance in hosting the first Canadian Championships in the nation’s capital in 17 years.

Here’s our take on the highs and lows of this year’s championships:

The Highs

Men’s 5000m: The second longest race of the weekend saw some of the most excitement. Guelph’s Reid Coolsaet, who led from the gun, looked like he had the race sewn up. That was, until 150 metres to go when Sherbrooke’s Paul Morrison had other ideas. Trailing by about 40 metres, he found another gear and caught Coolsaet at the tape. It was a photo finish. The winner? Coolsaet: by a hair; or four thousands of a second to be exact. (Coolsaet was clocked at 13 minutes 49.932 to Morrison’s 13:39.936.)

The Return of the Golden Boys: Ten years after their gold medal performance in the 4 x 100m relay in Atlanta, the boys were back. Sure, Carleton Chambers, Robert “Blast Off Esmie, Glenroy Gilbert, Bruny Surin and Donovan Bailey didn’t run around the track as many expected (they were driven around the 400 ms in a white stretch limousine), but their presence certainly added a touch of nostalgia and star power to the Championships.

Perdita Felicien - Women's 100m Hurdles - Photo: Athletics Canada

Women’s 100m Hurdles: Billed as the marquee event of the weekend, the women’s 100 m hurdles didn’t disappoint. Perdita Felicien put her heartbreaking 2004 Olympic stumble and two years of injury troubles behind her and nipped Edmonton’s Angela and Priscilla Lopes of Whitby at the tape. She called the win her “sweetest ever,” clocking her best time of the season. (Felicien was 12.64, Whyte came home in 12.69 seconds to Lopes 12.78)

Kevin Sullivan: The fastest-ever Canadian over 1,500 metres and the mile, Kevin Sullivan decided to forgo a run at his seventh consecutive title in favour of working on his speed. After placing 9th in the 800 semi-finals, he showed up at the track on Sunday and found out he was given a birth to the “A” final after Canadian record holder, Victoria’s Gary Reid, dropped out due to injury. Sullivan did more than work on his speed; he found a gap in the final straightaway and snatched the bronze medal. “I got lucky,” he said.

3000m women’s Steeple Chase: Danelle Woods of the Ottawa Lions surprised herself by winning silver in the women’s 3000 m steeplechase. The 17 year-old Hillcrest High School Student shaved nearly 10 seconds off her personal best and came within 3 seconds of the Canadian junior record. Not bad for someone who has only raced the distance three times before.

Ottawa Lions: The Ottawa Lions, and particularly meet director Andy McInnis and Ken Porter, get a five-star rating for their performance in the 2006 Canadian Track and Field Championships. The track events, in particular, ran smoother than a Swiss train at rush hour. No problems. No doping allegations. No disqualifications. Just a well run meet.

Men's High Jump - Photo: Steve Bower for RunnersWeb.com

The Lows

Men’s 100 metres: Uninspiring. The glamour event of the meet was won in a pedestrian 10.31. It meant that two of the finalists were treated to a tongue lashing from Donovan Bailey near the finish line. Added Robert Esmie: “Man, I would like to put my skin suit on right now. I go out to the track every couple of weeks and can still run 10.6. It wouldn’t take much to get it down to 10.3 or better. These guys need to get moving.”

The Medal Ceremony: We hesitate to add a single negative to what could be considered among the best nationals yet, but we have to do just one. And that is the truncated medal ceremony. We realize that Andy McInnis wanted to keep to the schedule but it meant that if you sneezed or reached down to get a sip of water, you missed a medal presentation. And what about the athletes? They’d just put in a supreme effort. They had to recover faster than they just raced or it was lights out on being presented a medal.

Lack of Fan Support: The stands were never full at the Terry Fox Athletic Facility. Even for the ceremonial victory lap of the men’s 4 x 100m from Atlanta. You can’t blame the weather. Sunny all weekend. The cost? All of $5.00 to get a chance to see some of the finest track and field athletes in the world. Other sporting events to steal one’s attention? There was no Lynx Game, no Renegades or a Senators run to contend with. All in all, a disappointing turnout from Ottawa. When you think that the US Track and Field Championships see an average daily turnout of over 20,000 and attendance at European races is through the roof, you’ve got to wonder what it will take.

© Copyright 2006 Lynne Bermel

Lynne Bermel, a former world-ranked pro Ironman competitor, is a senior marketing & PR consultant living in Ottawa. She is also a freelance writer and TV sports show host. You can reach her at: lynnebermel@rogers.com.

You can access previous columns by Lynne at: LB_Columns


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