Commonwealth Games: Is Lanni Marchant a potential medallist?

July 16, 2014 0

© Copyright – 2014  – Athletics Illustrated

Lanni Marchant of London, Ontario will represent Canada at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games in the marathon distance. At the 2013 IAAF World Track and Field Championships that took place in Moscow, Russia, she had a rough experience and finished well back of the lead by finishing in just over three hours. She will seek to re-establish herself as Canada’s all-time best marathon runner. “Pace and time won’t be much of a concern or a target going into the race. I am hopeful for a strong race that will continue to propel me in my championship marathon experience,” said Marchant when asked about her Commonwealth Games goals.

She is the current national record holder with her 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon performance of 2:28:00. She broke the 28-year-old Canadian record that was previously held by Sylvia Ruegger at 2:28:36.  In April of 2012 Marchant had her first major breakthrough performance when she ran the Rotterdam Marathon in a personal best time of 2:31:51. This performance was slightly outside of Athletics Canada’s standards for qualification to compete in the 2012 London Olympic Games marathon. After a lengthy battle with appeals and an adjudication process, she and fellow Canadian marathon runner Krista DuChene were deemed not qualified to compete in London, but later proved their ability by both running under the national record in the Toronto race.

Marchant continues to demonstrate her talent, for example in March of 2014, she ran a new half-marathon personal best time in Nashville, TN by finishing in 1:10:47. One month prior, she ran a new 10,000m personal best time in Palo Alto, California with her performance of 32:29.61. Weather aside, will the Commonwealth Games marathon provide the competitive field she needs to compete for a medal? Marchant told Athletics Illustrated, “I’m Feeling good. I’ve had some pretty strong last few weeks of training and am excited to be headed over to Scotland this weekend. I’m looking forward to a good race.”

Typically major championships are run in the summer, where the heat can play a major role in the quality of the finish times. Most athletes enter the races seeded with personal best times that are often much faster (than their Games results), due to typically racing at more optimal times of the year such as the autumn and spring, when the temperatures are cooler. However, this trend may be changing, perhaps through heat acclimatization practices, for example during the 2012 London Olympic marathon Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia won gold in 2:23:07. The top four finishers ran under 2:24:00. Four years earlier in Beijing Constantina Dita won in 2:26:48 at the age of 38. During the 2013 IAAF World Track and Field Championships Kenyan Edna Kiplagat won gold in 2:25:44. Two years earlier she won in a slower time; however, the temperatures were very high in Daegu, Korea for the marathon; she still finished in 2:28:43.

During the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, the women’s marathon was won in the time of 2:34:32 by Kenyan Irene Jerotich Kosgei. Eleven seconds back was teammate Irene Kemunto Mogake, followed by Australian Lisa Weightman in 2:35:25. On the surface these finish times seem well within Marchant’s capability.

The last time Canadian women earned a medal in the Commonwealth Games was in Victoria during the 1994 games, where Carole Rouillard took gold in 2:30:41 and silver went to Lizanne Bussieres, who finished just 26 seconds back. Since then Kerryn Ann McCann of Australia won back-to-back gold medals in the 2006 Melbourne edition and the Manchester Commonwealth Games from 2002. She finished in 2:30:54 and 2:30:05, respectively. The 1998 Kuala Lumpur games saw a Victory by Heather Turland of Australia in 2:41:24.

If Marchant can handle warm temperatures during a marathon and is able to key off of an optimal competitor, she may able to run right around her personal best time.  If so, she potentially could contend for a medal; anything can and often does happen in championship events.

All details about the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games can be followed at http://www.thecgf.com/

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