O’Connell at Vic City Invite, Victoria, BC. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

© Copyright – 2017 – Athletics Illustrated

On July 13, Andrea Seccafien, in an Athletics Illustrated article, thanked Natasha Wodak and Kinsey Gomez for leading much of the 2017 Canadian Track and Field Championships 5,000-metre race. It was a sacrifice that may have cost them a position on Team Canada to compete in the 2017 London IAAF World Track and Field Championships.

Wodak, who calls Vancouver home, made the team regardless, as she qualified for the longer 10,000-metre distance event. She is the Canadian record holder with her best of 31:41.59. She also competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Gomez, a Canadian-American, will not be competing in London.

For Calgary’s Jessica O’Connell, making the team required finishing first or second at the nationals as she had already run under the qualification standard of 15:22. Seccafien won, O’Connell finished second. Mission accomplished.

They ran 15:39.66 and 15:40.91, respectively, while Sasha Gollish of Toronto was third in 15:42.59.

O’Connell and Toronto’s Seccafien had already run 15:20.77 and 15:16.79 in advance of the Ottawa event that was hosted by the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club.

“My main objective at nationals was to place in the top-two, which would secure my spot on the World’s team. Knowing that both Andrea and Sasha are very strong and speedy runners, I tried to take the safest risks I could to put myself in a top-two position,” said the Rio Olympian. “This worked! I really commend Tasha Wodak and Kinsey Gomez for doing much of the work through the race and setting a strong pace, which resulted in one of the fastest 5,000m races we’ve had at Nationals in quite a while!”

O’Connell, who will be racing once more before the world championships in Huesden, feels that her Rio experience has prepared her for the upcoming London world championships that are taking place Saturday, Aug. 5, to Sunday, Aug 13.

“My goal for London, of course, is to be competing in the final. This hasn’t happened yet (at a global championships), but my experience racing in the Olympics last year has taught me a bit more about what to expect in championship heats. I have a few weeks of training left to get myself as fit as possible to try and make that happen! I have one more grinder in Huesden before the big dance!

The Night of Athletics takes place in Huesden, Netherlands on Saturday, July 22.