© Copyright – 2017 – Athletics Illustrated

O’Connell in Victoria for Vic City Invite, 2017 at the University of Victoria. Photo credit: Christopher Kelsall

Calgary’s Jessica O’Connell earned a silver medal in the 5,000-metre event during the 2017 World University Games (FISU) in Taipei, Thailand on Sunday, August 27.

She finished in the time of 15:50.96 in a tactical race. Hanna Elizabeth Klein of Germany, a 1500-metre and 5,000-metre specialist, won the race in 15:45.28, while Jessica May Judd finished third. The Great Briton crossed the line in the time of 15:51.19. Judd is a middle distance runner and typically competes in the 800-metre and 1500-metre events. The 22-year-old owns a solid 1500 best of 4:03.73.

If it was to be a tactical race, O’Connell would need her aerobic engine to keep her competition on their toes.

O’Connell competed this summer in the Rio Olympics and owns the fastest 5,000-metre best of the three with her 15:06.44. Judd’s best is 15:34.82, while Klein has run a 15:17.14.

O’Connell studied the start list and knew that it was very realistic for her to aim for a medal.

After not having her best day in Rio, FISU, while certainly not anywhere near as competitive, would still require a strong effort and smart tactics.

“I wasn’t sure what colour medal it would be, however, as the other two women who finished in the top-three are very accomplished 1500m runners, which can amount to great kicks in a tactical race, the bulk of the run was pretty comfortable,” shared O’Connell. “But we really wound up the pace during the last mile or so. The race came down to the final lap and I found myself sprinting into second position with about 250m to go and holding that through the finish line.”

O’Connell chose to race at FISU because she believes that championship racing is invaluable and with that, she is pleased with her performance during a tactical race, against competitors who could sprint.

“Yes, I am pleased with my performance.”

Asked about her plans for the rest of the summer and fall, she said, “I am running the Canadian 5K Championships and then taking a much-needed break. I’ll be doing some cross-country training when I resume, as it is base-building season, but I’m not sure of my fall race plans yet; first a break!”

There were 17 competitors in the final.

The world record is currently owned by Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba with her best of 14:11.15. The FISU record is 15:28.78.

The New Balance Canadian 5K Road Championship race takes place Sunday, September 10 in Yorkville, Ontario. The course is flat, fast with few turns. If the weather is favourable, there should be some fast Canadian times.

There is $2500 up for grabs for winning and a further $2500 for setting a Canadian land record.

Charles Philibert-Thiboutot of Quebec is the defending champion, winning the 2016 edition in the time of 14:03.4, while three-time Olympian Nate Brannen finished second in the time of 14:06.1 and Vancouver’s Luc Bruchet third recording a 14:07.60 finish. Philibert-Thiboutot and Brannen are 1500-metre specialists, while Bruchet has competed in both and is more of a 5,000-metre athlete.

All three are Olympians.

Andrea Seccafien won in the time of 16:09.6, taking out fellow Torontonians Sasha Gollish by less than half of a second, while Laura Batterink finished third in 16:12.3.