Day 1 of the 2021 Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Trials presented by Bell was an opportunity for Canadian athletes to shoot for their event’s qualifying standard, or accumulate points to work their way to the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
For Lindsey Butterworth and John Gay: Mission accomplished.
Butterworth ran under the Olympic qualifying standard in the women’s 800-metres, winning her first national championship in a time of 1:59.19.
“I’m so happy and I knew it was there and I just wanted to go out and compete,” Butterworth said. “I know that all the girls in the women’s 800 are world-class, so I just wanted to get in there for the win.”
Gay made his case for Tokyo with a blistering time of 8:28.68 in the men’s 3,000-metre steeplechase.
“It was kind of the storybook ending to this long chase of a season that I’ve had,” said Gay. “A week ago, I was going to hop on a flight to Sweden for a last-chance race and just had a gut feeling that that wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I needed to be here. I needed run these National Championships. They’re our Olympic Trials. I had actually already taken one of my three flights to get there and pulled the plug when we landed in Montreal a week ago. Here I am, a week later, and it’s just confirmation that gut instinct, as crazy as it was at the time, paid off.”
Aaron Brown wins national title
No stranger to the title of National Champion, Aaron Brown took the men’s 100 metres in a time of 10.12 seconds. Today’s performance was his fourth national 100-metre title. “I had Bolade (Ajomale), who is a really good starter right beside me and he was challenging me,” said Brown. “I stayed tight, trusted my turnover and pulled away at the end. I’m trying to win titles, so I’m happy with that.”
Brown shifts his focus to Saturday’s 200-metre final, where he is also already a four-time champion, having also won the last two national titles in that distance.
Crystal Emmanuel narrowly takes the 100m
On the women’s side, Crystal Emmanuel edged Khamica Bingham at the line to win the 100 metres in a time of 11.18 seconds in a race that had to be re-run after a technical issue. “I executed two good races. I was a little shaky on the second one, but I came out and practiced what I wanted to do and I’m happy with it,” she said. “To get that one mishap was a blessing in disguise because you want to get out and get your legs moving, so I was happy that we were able to run again.”
Emmanuel is now an eight-time Canadian 100-metre champion, having won the last five national titles, from 2016 to 2021. She previously won three titles between 2011 and 2014.
Elizabeth Gleadle takes 10th Javelin title
Elizabeth Gleadle topped Emmanuel’s mark, earning her 10th women’s javelin championship with a best throw of 59.81 metres, throwing into the wind. “It was really nice to be out here. I enjoyed competing at this track last year and it was special to be here, even with just a couple people,” said Gleadle. “I came out here with the intent and purpose of getting my 10th national title and that’s what I did. The distance wasn’t crazy far, but it was respectable.”
Decathlon superstar Damian Warner took a break from his usual 10 events to compete in the men’s long jump, ultimately prevailing with a jump of 7.81 metres. “It always means a lot to come out here [Olympic Trials/National Championships] and compete against these guys,” said Warner. “A lot of people have been through some tough situations the past couple years, dealing with the pandemic. So, it’s always good to come out here, see some familiar faces and compete.”
Meet Your 2021 National Champions
First to claim gold on Friday was Noelle Montcalm, winning the women’s 400-metre hurdles event with a season-best time of 56.34 seconds.
Alicia Brown just edged out Micha Powell and Zoe Sherar to claim the women’s 400-metre title in a time of 51.96 seconds.
Philip Osei earned another national crown for the men’s 400 metres in a competitive race, in a time of 46.60 seconds.
Zachary Gingras ran his T38 400 metres in 53.78 seconds, commenting: “It was good. I got out how I wanted to. Just the last 50 metres I couldn’t turn over and put together a complete 400 metres. It was a good 350, I’d say, but I wish I could’ve done a little better at Nationals.”
Amanda Rummery ran the T46 400 metres in a time of 1:01.68.
Marissa Papaconstantinou ran her women’s T64 100 metres in a time of 13.48.
Robert Heppenstall won the men’s 800-metres in a time of 1:46.79.
Charlotte Bolton won her first National Championship with a throw of 8.77 metres in the F41 women’s shot put. Her training partner Sarah Mitton earned gold with a throw of 18.21 metres in the women’s shot put. Mark Bujnowski claimed the men’s shot put title with his throw of 17.35 metres.
Regan Yee capped off the night with an amazing performance in the women’s 3,000-metre steeplechase, winning in a time of 9:31.46.
After the first day of competition, Taylor Ehrhardt leads the field in the men’s decathlon with a score of 4,053 points. Ehrhardt won the long jump and shot put events, en route to his 132-point lead over Nathaniel Mechler.
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