© Copyright – 2019 – Athletics Illustrated

Regan Yee at the 2019 Harry Jerome Track Classic. Still smiling, after finding out she missed World’s standard by six one-hundredths of a second. Photo: Christopher Kelsall.

Coach Mark Bomba knew she was fit and ready. Regan Yee knew she was fit and ready and everyone around her knew too: training partners, competitors. Heck, officials, fans and volunteers knew she was ready to execute, she just needed the opportunity. There are so few.

Yee of Vancouver, an alum of Trinity Western University and South Hazelton native ran fast enough to qualify for the 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships in the 3,000-metre steeplechase. She did so by running a new personal best of 9:35.49 at Azusa Pacific University on Tuesday – a last chance sort of meet.

“This was the only competitive steeplechase we’d caught wind of in North America before Nationals,” said the Langley Mustangs Endurance Group athlete. “So it was a last-chance standard chase!”

For the standard-chasing fandango, and with qualification dates set well in advance, an athlete can still run out of time to qualify due to a myriad of factors; she narrowly missed too, after being saddled with a strep infection, followed by an allergic reaction to Amoxicillin. She gathered herself and raced the event at the 2019 Harry Jerome Track Classic on June 21.

There, she set a meet record of 9:40.06; short of qualifying for World’s by a heart-wrenching six one-hundredths of a second – it was a cruel turn that final stretch, watching the clock tick off the seconds as she neared the line, 9:36…37…38…39…40…

As for the Tuesday meet, she said, “I was just trying to stay relaxed and remind myself that I’m fit enough to stay with the world-class runners like Maria (Bernard-Galea) and Marisa Howard.”

Canadian Bernard-Galea dropped her personal best from 9:42.90 to 9:36.12, to hit the standard, while American Howard finished in 9:36.46. They were all seeking sub-9:40.00.

Yee sat in third with 400m to go and flew over the final 200m in 38.06 seconds. Only Howard ran faster over the final half-lap with a 36.88 sprint.

“I’m super happy to have pulled that off,” added Yee. “The win was huge for my confidence and getting standard takes some of the pressure off, for now.”

The pressure will be back on at nationals, the selection trials that will be taking place in Montreal, July 25-28. She will then compete in the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. World’s run from Sept. 26 to Oct. 6 and Bomba knows she can execute.

“The goal from day one was to try and separate herself from the pack of 9:30 girls,” said Bomba. “For her, it’s still about learning to race the steeple (the water jump is still a work in progress) and trusting her pain levels (she still allows gaps to occur that a higher level, world-class athlete, like Genevieve Lalonde, will take advantage of, but it’s coming together.”

But in regards to Tuesday’s performance, Bomba said in a foreshadowing-like statement, “That wasn’t a surprise. She’s pretty fit, much fitter than the race indicated.”

Lalonde is the national record holder and 2016 Rio Olympian. She has run as fast as 9:29.82. She set that record in May in a meet in Shanghai, China.