© Copyright – 2013 – Athletics Illustrated
On June 29th, the third instalment of the 2013 National Track League takes place at Foote Stadium in the City of Champions, Edmonton, Alberta. The meet is known as the Edmonton International Track Classic. At this time the commitment from athletes continues to develop however, one race that already threatens to be an exciting event is the women’s 800m. Because the Canadian Championships in Moncton, New Brunswick happen just days before this meet, the Edmonton event may have huge implications as to who gets to compete in Moscow, Russia, at the 2013 IAAF World Track and Field Championships. Finishing top three is a requirement in combination with finishing within the A or B Athletics Canada standards, which are 2:00.00 and 2:01.50. The only names missing to make this event the unofficial Canadian Championships are Helen Crofts (2:02.10), Diane Cummins (1:58.39 – CDN Record) and Annie LeBlanc (2:03.41).
Maggie Vessey of the US currently tops the list of competitors with her personal best time of 1:57.84. She is an NCAA All-American and has competed at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships. Her season best performance for 2013 in comparison is just a pedestrian 2:03.40; however, it’s early. She will be chased by Jamaica’s Kenia Sinclair who similarly has run nearly six seconds off of her personal best time so far this year. Her best is 1:57.88 versus this year’s 2:03.62. Sinclair has won a medal at the IAAF World Indoor Championships and narrowly missed medalling during the 2005 Worlds.
Canada boasts four women in this race who have already run faster this year than Sinclair and Vessey, they are Melissa Bishop, Jessica Smith, Karin Belleau-Beliveau and Lemlem Bereket.
Simon Fraser University’s Jessica Smith of North Vancouver leads the way this season with her time of 2:01.17, the world’s 46th fastest time of the year, so far. She has run as fast as 1:59.86 in her career from 2012, which qualified her for the London Olympic Games. In London she finished seventh in the semi-finals. Bishop from Eganville, Ontario is right behind Smith with her seasonal best and owns a slightly faster personal best time. Bishop’s personal best is 1:59.82 and she has run as fast as 2:01.54 this season. She also competed in the London Games. Lemlem Bereket has run as fast as 2:01.30. She is showing good form early as she has run as fast as 2:02.82 already this year. These three represent the three fastest 800m runners in Canada.
Two dark horses rising quickly are Karine Belleau-Beliveau who has run her lifetime personal best of 2:01.79 during the 2013 season and Rachel Francois who competes for the University of Victoria Vikes; she may surprise – she has been running well this year and she is from nearby St. Albert, so this meet may provide home field advantage for Francois. Her best for the distance is 2:03.97. Although Francois comes from a more sprint-like distance of the 400m, her result will likely depend on how the rest of the field takes the race out, from the start. Also in the race is Canadian Jenna Westaway from Calgary, Alberta who has run her lifetime best this season which is 2:05.60.
The race can be streamed live at Flotrack.org.