Athletics Canada is sending 28 athletes to the World Cross Country Championships which are taking place in Bathurst, Australia on February 18.

The last international cross-country meet to take place before the pandemic was the 2020 Pan Am Cross Country Cup on February 29 in Victoria, BC. It’s been since 2019 that a Worlds meet has taken place.

Thelma Wright was involved in landing the Cup for Victoria and is also involved in these Bathurst championships.

“We have great leadership, talent, and experience to allow Canada to meet the tremendous challenge of World Cross Country racing,” said Team Lead Thelma Wright. “Canada historically has excellent individual and team results in both men’s and women’s U20 races, as well as some outstanding individual performances in our Senior ranks. This year’s team will be no different and we look to some very positive results and surprise performances.”

In 2019 in Aarhus, Canada finished seventh in the mixed relay, sixth in the women’s U20 race, 12th in the men’s U20 race, 16th in the open men’s race, and seventh in the open women’s race. While Wright thinks all of Canada’s teams have a chance at improving on their 2019 results, she believes Canada’s senior women have an especially great shot at bettering their past ranking.

“With five of our six senior women having previous world cross-country experience, and with four Olympians on the team, our Senior Women’s team is one of our strongest in a decade.” 

Although cross-country running started in an organized way in Great Britain in the early 1800s, the World Cross Country Championships first began in 1973 with an annual event. It has since moved to every other year. This is the first time that the meet is being held in Australia. And the second time in Oceania as Auckland, New Zealand hosted in 1988.

The most prolific athlete at the World Cross Country Championships is Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele with six long course wins and six short course win and five times doubling by winning both the short and the long races five times. He also won the U20 race and finished second once. Kenya’s Paul Tergat won five years in a row from 1995 to 1999.

Norway’s Greta Waitz was the most successful on the women’s side having won four times during the 1980s. American Lynn Jennings won three times in a row and Kenyan Derartu Tulu and Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba have won multiple times more recently. Most athletes who succeed at the World Cross Country Championships go on to have strong international careers on the roads and tracks including Tergat, Bekele, Paula Radcliffe, and most recently Hellen Obiri who holds Kenyan records in the one-mile, 3000m, and 5000m distance events. Obiri has won two Olympic silver medals and two World Athletics Championships gold medals. She has now transitioned to the marathon.

The top-placing male Canadian at the World Championships was St. John’s Newfoundland and Labrador’s Paul McCloy who placed eighth in 1987 in Warszawa, Poland.

The top Canadian female was Lynn Kanuka (nee Williams) who took bronze during the 1989 event in Stavanger, Norway.


Athlete NameHometownClubCoach
U20 Men
Heath McAllisterLondon, ONLondon Western T&F ClubDave Mills
Jack LehtoBurlington, ONBurlington T&F ClubTerry Radchenko
Tion McLeishVictoria, BCUniversity of VictoriaHilary Stellingwerff
Tristan ColesSt. Thomas, ONLondon Western T&F ClubDave Mills
Jaxon KucharTrail, BCVictoria Endurance Track ClubHilary Stellingwerff
Gaetano PocchiToronto, ONBlue Devils Athletic ClubBen Devito
Non-travelling reserves
Angus SkinnerKingston, ONPhysi-KultBrant Stachel
Tanner HueglinBradford, ONNewmarket Huskies
U20 Women
Erin VringerSaint John, NBSaint Johns Red Track ClubKyle Kepler
Marika CoutureQuébec, QCClub d’athlétisme de l’Université LavalVincent Filion
Ella BallardVictoria, BCPrairie Inn HarriersBruce Deacon
Emily CesconToronto, ONUniversity of Toronto Track ClubEthan Davenport
Muriel LovshinToronto, ONToronto Olympic ClubBrian Lovshin
Michelle GrayMississauga, ONMississauga Track and Field ClubPaul Carter
Non-travelling reserves
Sierra RodriguesBolton, ONSaint John Track ClubChris Belof
Léane BarilRouyn-Noranda, QCTracklassChristian Villeneuve
Open Men
Connor BlackForest, ONLondon Western TFCDave Mills
John GayKelowna, BCVancouver Thunderbirds Track & Field ClubChris Johnson
Max TurekWhitby, ONHarbour TrackPaula Schnurr
Phil Parrot-MigasLondon, ONLondon Western TFCDave Wills
Mitchell UbeneTecumseh, ONRoyal City Athletics ClubTerry Radchenko
Andrew DaviesHamilton, ONHarbour TrackPaula Schnurr
Non-travelling reserves
Jeremy CoughlerLondon, ONLondon Western T&F ClubDave Mills
Mike TateAntigonish, NSLondon Western T&F ClubDave Mills
Open Women
Julie-Anne StaehliLucknow, ONTeam New Balance BostonMark Coogan
Natalia AllenNorth Vancouver, BCVancouver Thunderbirds / BrooksChris Johnson
Katelyn AyersOrillia, ONVictoria Endurance ClubHilary Stellingwerff
Kate BazeleySt. Johns, NLNewfoundland AthleticsJon Brown
Regan YeeSouth Hazelton, BCUnder ArmourStephen Haas
Maria Bernard-GaleaCalgary, ABUniversity of Calgary Athletics ClubMatthew Galea
Non-travelling reserves
Jessy LacourseQuébec, QCClub d’athlétisme de l’Université LavalFélix-Antoine Lapointe
Branna MacDougallGlenburnie, ONPhysi-KultSteve Boyd
Mixed Relay
Jazz ShuklaToronto, ONRoyal City Athletics ClubTerry Radchenko
Erin TeschukWinnipeg, MBNew BalanceAndrew Carlson
Matthew BeaudetMontreal, QCClub St-Laurent Sélect (CSLS)Samuel Marion
Perry MacKinnonCoaticook, QCSherbrookeJean-Pierre Lemelin
Non-travelling reserves
Kate CurrentCoburg, ONLondon Western TFCGuy Schultz
Jack SheffarLondon, ONLondon Western TFCDave Mills
Thelma WrightTeam LeaderVancouver, BC
Bruce DeaconTeam CoachVictoria, BC
Ingrid RuysTeam CoachSherwood Park, AB
Hilary StellingwerffTeam CoachVictoria, BC
Kristine DeaconTeam ManagerCambridge, ON
Carolyn DaubenyIST (Massage Therapist)Vancouver, BC
Gus GiannoutsosIST (Massage Therapist)Regina, SK
Stephanie McCannIST (Physiotherapist)Coquitlam, BC