© Copyright – 2015 – Athletics Illustrated
Canadian men are listed here.
The list of track and field athletes that make up Team Canada competing in the 2015 Toronto Pan Am/Parapan Am Games was released over the weekend and Athletics Canada looks to be fielding one of the very best teams, all-time.
There are many talented Canadians who are staying home due to only having a maximum of two competitors per event, instead of the usual three in other global championships. There are also typical injury situations as well as timing that may be affecting decisions on when to peak or to forego one major meet over another, as there are two global championships this summer. In addition to the Pan Am Games there is also the 2015 Beijing IAAF World Track and Field Championships happening in August.
On the women’s side there are several national record holders competing in the Pan Am Games, here are several athletes to watch for:
Christabel Nettey of Brampton, Ontario is competing in the long jump. She has jumped to 6.99-metres both indoors and outdoors, both jumps are national records and both have been accomplished during 2015. The 24-year-old is competing at a very high level this year and should be a serious medal threat in Toronto.
Vancouver’s Natasha Wodak is the Canadian 10,000m record holder with her best of 31:41.59 from the Payton Jordan Invitational meet that took place in May of 2015. She also holds the 8K road record at 25:28. Both performances are outstanding. Wodak has had international experience mostly in cross-country as she is a former national as well as NACAC cross country champion and world championships competitor.
Lanni Marchant of London, Ontario – a practising lawyer living in Chattanooga, TN – is Canada’s marathon record holder with her 2:28.00 performance from the 2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. She also owns the national half marathon record, which is 1:10:47 from 2014. In the same meet where Wodak set the national 10,000m record, Marchant wasn’t far behind finishing with the second fastest active time and third fastest in Canadian history with her 31:46.94. Courtenay Babcock held the previous record with her 31:44.74 from the same meet in 2003. Marchant will be competing in the 10,000m event and likely saving her marathon for the world championships that take place in August.
Sultana Frizell owns both the Canadian and Commonwealth Games records for the Hammer Throw. Her Games record is 71.97m, while her national record is 75.04m. She won gold at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She earned two gold medals in the Commonwealth Games and a silver in the Pan Am Games that took place in Guadalajara in 2011. She is a serious threat for the gold medal in Toronto. Her coach is Anatoliy Bondarchuk, the most successful Hammer Throw coach all-time.
Although Humboldt, Saskatchewan’s Brianne Theisen-Eaton is Canada’s record holder in the Heptathlon with her point total performance of 6808 from the May 2015 Hypo-Meeting that takes place in Götzis, Austria. She will be competing in the long jump and 4 x 400m events. She is competitive in these events apart from the Heptathlon, with her personal best of 6.72m in the long jump, while her 400m best time is 53.72.
The Women’s 800m event will be interesting to watch. Two of Canada’s fastest will be competing in North Vancouver’s Jessica Smith and Eganville, Ontario’s Melissa Bishop, they are the third and fourth fastest all-time Canadians and the third and fourth to break the two-minute barrier, with their personal bests of 1:59.70 for Bishop and 1:59.86 for Smith. An interesting turn of events nearly derailed Smith’s opportunity to compete in the Pan Ams, as Langley, BC’s Fiona Benson went from competitive university athlete to the class of the field on May 30th at a meet in Victoria. Three meets later and she became just the fifth Canadian ever to eclipse 2:00.00 while running the fastest time in Canada this year. Unfortunately she will not represent Canada in the Pan Am Games.
Although she is the fastest for 2015, she did not provide Athletics Canada with advance notice (within a pre-set time period) declaration of her intent to compete. She just wasn’t fast enough until May 30th so therefore it did not occur to her to consider declaring. Meanwhile Smith and Bishop have the ability to medal in Toronto and if they become as fit as they have in the past, will make for an exciting competition on home soil.
All three athletes could also be competing in the Canadian Track and Field Championships which are happening July 2nd to the 5th to decide who goes to the world championships. The only one of the three under the qualification standard of 2:01.00 at this time is Fiona Benson. Bishop should be a shoe-in, as she is rounding into form after suffering an injury to her ankle in May. AthleticsCanada.tv will be streaming the competition live from Edmonton.
Winnipeg’s Nicole Sifuentes is the fastest active Canadian in this event with her best of 4:04.65. She also earned a bronze medal in the 2014 Sopot, Poland IAAF World Indoor Track and Field Championships and a fourth at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Sasha Gollish is a 34-year-old triathlete who has come into form nicely in 2015 as a 1500m runner with her best of 4:07.47, however, it is more who is not competing than who is, that is interesting.
Brampton’s Kate van Buskirk is a bronze medallist from the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Injury has derailed her season and she was not able to round into form as she previously has. Her personal best is 4:05.38. Victoria’s Hilary Stellingwerff is rounding into form; however, she is returning after pregnancy and is still a handful of seconds away from her best days that took place leading up to the 2012 London Olympics, which garnered her a personal best time of 4:05.08.
Jessica O’Connell of Calgary is having the best season of her life. At the 2015 Payton Jordan Invitational she ran to a new personal best time of 15:06.44. The Canadian record is just 11 and a half seconds away at 14:54.98, set by Courtenay Babcock during the 2003 world championships. The Pan American record is much slower at 15:30.65 as set by Adriana Fernández of Mexico during the 2003 Santo Domingo edition.
Phylicia George (12.65) and Nikkita Holder (12.93) both of Toronto will be competitive while representing Canada. Similar to the 800m and 1500m events, who is not going is just as interesting.
Edmonton’s Angela Whyte (12.64) is the most experience Canadian in this event and is the third fastest, all-time, however, this season Holder and George were faster. Whyte has earned three Commonwealth and two Pan American Games medals during her career. Their personal bests are all very close and on any given day any of three could win. Also not in this event is Jessica Zelinka who is Canada’s second highest scoring heptathlete all-time and former record holder. Her 100mh best is the same as George’s at 12.65.
Zelinka will be competing in the heptathlon. Without Theisen-Eaton to compete with, Zelinka has an opportunity to win any colour of medal.
Geneviève Lalonde has been running very well in 2015 and in June ran a new personal best in the 3,000m steeplechase with her performance of 9:35.69, which is less than two seconds off of Jessica Furlan’s national record of 9:33.45, however, Furlan will not be competing.
In May of this year, Vancouver’s Elizabeth Gleadle set the Canadian record for the Javelin at 64.83m in Kawasaki, Japan. She is also a threat to medal.
The Road to Rio is paved through Toronto. The Pan Am Games are an opportunity for Canadians who haven’t had global competition exposure. It is also an opportunity for those competing in the world championships a month later to sharpen areas of their competition that need improvement. Canada is fielding a very strong women’s team, the rest of the athletes are listed below.
20km race walk
Marie-Josée Le Jour