OTTAWA -- Not since 1968 when Harry Jerome took gold in the men's 100-metres have the track and field championships been held in Toronto. Track and Field is coming back, alive and well, to Canada's largest urban centre with the 2009 Canadian Track and Field Championships & World Championships Selection Trials set to take the stage in 56 days. Beginning Thursday June 25 at the University of Toronto's newly built Varsity Centre, the fully integrated championships will feature Canada's top track and field talent.
The Championships serve as the selection trials for the team which will travel to Berlin, Germany to compete in the 12th World Championships in Athletics from August 15 to 23. Canada won two silver medals at the last edition of Worlds in Osaka, Japan two years ago. Perdita Felicien from Pickering, ON and Gary Reed from Victoria, BC both stood on the second step of the podium; Felicien in the 100-metre hurdles and Reed in the 800-metres.
Abundance of Star Athletes with local ties
Massimo Bertocchi, Pierre Browne, Josh Cassidy, Tabia Charles, Perdita Felicien, Anson Henry and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep are all among a group of local athletes who will compete in front of their hometown crowd. Tottenham's Bertocchi will be looking to defend his national decathlon title; last year he broke 8000-points to secure a birth in the Beijing Olympic Games. He is one of only four Canadians to ever break this mark (Dave Steen, Mike Smith, Mike Nolan).
Toronto's Pierre Browne and Pickering's Anson Henry will line up at Varsity Centre attempting to earn the title of fastest Canadian. Browne is the reigning 100-metre champion, taking the title in 2008 in a photo finish that separated the top five by only 15 hundredths of a second. Both athletes raced together on Canada's 4x100-metre relay team that finished 6th in Beijing.
Josh Cassidy from Oakville competes in the wheelchair 800, 1500 and 5000-metres, he is the defending Canadian champion in the 800 and 5000-metre events. At the Beijing Paralympic Games he qualified for and competed in all three events, finishing 10th in the 5000m.
Tabia Charles from Pickering is known for her pink highlights and fishnet stocking, she's also known for finishing 10th at the Olympic Games in the long jump and also holds the Canadian records in both the long and the triple jump. Charles will surely bring something special to the table competing in the Canadian media Mecca.
On the comeback trail after an injury wiped out her 2008 outdoor season, Pickering 100-metre hurdler Perdita Felicien will return hungry to the national stage to try to re-claim the hurdling national title. Her stiffest competition will come from current hurdling queen and Olympic bronze medalist Prisicilla Lopes-Schliep of Whitby.
Varsity Centre will host two other major track and field events on the road to the Canadian Championships. From June 5 to 7 the best athletic talent in Ontario will converge on Varsity Centre for the 2009 OFSAA Championships. Usain Bolt, the world's fastest man, will light up the track June 11 alongside world-class national and international athletes in the inaugural Festival of Excellence.
CBC will carry the Canadian Track and Field Championships & Worlds Selection Trials live from coast to coast on Saturday June 27 beginning at 4:30pm EDT. Check your local listings for more information.
Stay tuned to Athletics.ca for all news related to the 2009 Canadian Track and Field Championships & World Championships Selection Trials.