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Canada’s fastest man doubles up

Canada’s fastest man doubles up

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The 2019 Canadian Track & Field Championships came to a close today, but not without a few exciting finishes and big results.

She was on one of the hottest record-breaking streaks in Canadian history and on Day 4 of the Canadian Track & Field Championships, Gabriela DeBues-Stafford showed the crowd in Montreal her world-class racing.

Ranked in first place after yesterday’s semifinal, DeBues-Stafford toed the line in the women’s 1,500-metre final with the one goal, to win. Charging to the front of the pack from the get-go, the Canadian record holder would not let it go as she crossed the finish line in a time of 4:09.09 for her fourth consecutive 1,500-metre Canadian title.

After a year of change that has seen her change coaches and move to Glasgow, she is thankful for her time training in Toronto all of these years as well as her new team. “I can’t complain with the win,” said DeBues-Stafford. “I was doing really well with my coach Terry Radchenko at the University of Toronto. He really took me through a vulnerable time in my career when some other coaches could not handle what I was going through with as much grace as he did. I was just ready for a change and when I had an opportunity to work with Andy Young and Laura Muir, you just don’t say no to that.”

In the sprints, Aaron Brown had the opportunity to double his gold medal count on the track. After already repeating as the 100-metre Champion on Friday night, Brown blew away the field in the 200-metre final, defending his title from one year ago.

Finishing with a time of 20.03 seconds, his second fastest 200-metre race of the year, the rest of the podium was completed by Brendon Rodney with a time of 20.50 seconds and Jerome Blake who crossed the finish line in third place with a time of 20.57 seconds.

“Mission complete,” said a smiling Brown. “I set out at the beginning of the season to get two golds and to come away with it means the world. I had a good feeling going into the 200-metre final, I just wanted to make sure I didn’t sleep on anybody in the field and act like I already won. I still had to go through the movements and execute; I’m happy to get it done.”

In the women’s final Leya Buchanan stood atop the podium as the 2019 Canadian Champion. Running a time of 23.25 seconds, Buchanan added to her silver medal from the women’s 100-metre final with a gold. Ashlan Best (23.32 seconds) and Aiyanna-Brigette Stiverne (23.36 seconds) finished closely behind for second and third.

Her first year out of school, Buchanan believes there’s still work to be done and room to improve to provide even more competition in the women’s sprinting scene. “I’m with a new professional coach, everything’s a bit different, had a bit of a rough start in the beginning but as the season progressed I just trusted the process,” said Buchanan. “We are the ones who make track entertaining and we do appreciate the support people give to track.”

If the senior 200-metre finals weren’t close enough, the men’s U20 800-metre final saw Olivier Desmeules edge out Matthew Larkin by one millisecond, with times of 1:53.08 and 1:53.09, respectively, dividing the gold and silver finishes. In third place, Jack Taylor claimed the bronze with a time of 1:53.16.

Sage Watson made her return to the Canadian Championships after injury kept her out of last year’s festivities, and she didn’t disappoint. Winning the women’s 400-metre hurdle final in a time of 56.34 seconds, ahead of 2018 Champion Noelle Montcalm (58.07 seconds) and Kelsey Balkwill (58.29 seconds).

Kicking things off bright and early were the men’s and women’s race walk finals, where Evan Dunfee and Rachel Seaman took to the roads outside of Complex sportif Claude-Robillard to add to their career title count.

Going into the race with a different strategy this race, Dunfee got off to a strong start in the first 12-kilometres, cruising to his eighth career Canadian title and an overall time of 1:24:22. Fellow 2016 Olympian Mathieu Bilodeau finished with a time of 1:32:44 for second place, while Alger Liang came in third with a time of 1:37:24.

“Today was about a getting a hard training session with the Pan American Games next Sunday,” said Dunfee. “I feel really good, feel ready. I’m amongst the fittest I’ve ever been so it bodes well for next week and for Doha.”

In the women’s race, Seaman made her return to the Canadian Championships, her first since 2015. Winning her ninth career Canadian title in a time of 1:41.39, she feels good to be back after her hiatus. “I’m really happy to be back at Nationals,” said Seaman. “I got hurt after the IAAF Race Walk Challenge so I’ve had a little setback in training, but now I have the World Championships in two months so hopefully I have some time to get into good shape for that.”

After another breakout season for Nathan Riech, he brought his success to Claude-Robillard for the Canadian crowd to see what he was all about. In the men’s T12-T38 1,500-metre final, Riech would claim the T38 title in a time of 4:05.39, ahead of veteran Guillaume Ouellet’s 4:08.50 and Liam Stanley’s 4:10.79.

With a big performance in front of the Canadian crowd, he will head to the Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru, looking to put Canadian para athletes in the spotlight.

“I’m really happy about how good the para division has become,” said Riech. “My goals are to further the Paralympic movement. I can’t do this by myself, I need everyone in the para world, as well as able-bodied athletes, to push it to the forefront. There are some great stories so I just hope I can help in a small way.”

In the field, after setting a U20 Canadian record in the discus on Friday, Trinity Tutti continued her strong U20 throws performance, claiming her second gold of the Championships in the women’s U20 shot put. Winning with a throw of 15.46 metres, Tutti would beat out Dolly Gabri (13.96 metres) and Audrey O’Connor (12.97 metres) for the Canadian title.  

A staple in the Canadian throwing field, Tim Nedow continued his dominance in Canada, claiming his 11th overall Canadian Championship title with a throw of 20.53 metres.

“It’s always nice to come here and won another Canadian title. I think I did really well today,” said Nedow, who will head to the Pan American Games in hopes to improve on his silver medal performance from 2015. “There are a number of competitions left this year. I’d like to get the gold, nothing less than second.”

In the women’s high jump, it was Emma Kimoto who soared over the competition, for her first Canadian high jump title with a clearance of 1.79 metres. Maude Croteau-Vaillancourt, Barabar Bitchoka and Emily Branderhorst completed the podium, all finishing in a tie for the silver medal. After years of struggles, this Canadian title means so much more to Kimoto.

“This means everything to me,” said Kimoto. I was injured, away from Nationals for two years, so coming into this year I felt like I had a good time off and if I got everything together I could come out and win.”

One of the youngest athletes on the rise is Mahalia Mitchell in the women’s triple jump. After setting a new U18 record in the event at the NACAC U23 Championships ( 13.13 metres), Mitchell brought that experience to Montreal and came out as the Canadian U20 Champion in the women’s triple jump, soaring to 12.84 metres for the win.

With many great performances over the last four days, that brings the 2019 Canadian Track & Field Championships to a close from Complex sportif Claude-Robillard. Click here to view the full Championship results, and be sure to visit our social media channels – TwitterInstagram and Facebook – to check-out some great photos and highlights from the event.

Until next year… so long Montreal!