© Copyright – 2016 – Athletics Illustrated
The 800-metre event is likely the most competitive distance in athletics. Oddly it is also the only running event where athletes will want to race the first half faster than the second half. It is a long sprint, but it still requires aerobic conditioning not unlike the longer distances. The Olympic 800-metre distance event can be thrilling and two Canadian men have qualified for the big show.
Fifty-six athletes total will compete in the men’s 800-metre event that starts Friday, August 12th in Maracanã Stadium. There will be seven heats of eight athletes.
Canada’s Anthony Romaniw, who lives and trains in Guelph and Windsor’s Brandon McBride will toe-the-line.
McBride qualified for the games with his 1:44.63 performance from April of this year, but then he did one better and ran 1:43.95 last month in London’s Olympic Stadium, which makes him the fifth fastest seed for 2016.
Asked how he is feeling with his first race just two days away he told Athletics Illustrated, “I’m feeling great! I’m excited to get out there and compete for my country. I expect it to be very competitive in the early rounds, and if I want to make it out I will need to be at my best.”
McBride is the second fastest Canadian all-time behind the now retired Kamloops native Gary Reed, who has run as fast as 1:43.68. He won a silver medal in the 2007 IAAF Osaka World Track and Field Championships and finished a heart-breaking fourth during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games; it was a near photo finish performance.
Romaniw qualified late in July of this year running 1:45.95 in Edmonton. His personal best, which he ran in Ninove, Italy three years earlier is 1:45.60.
“I just settled in to the village on Monday. I don’t have a lot of time to adjust to Brazil, so I’m just focussed on one thing at a time right now,” Shared Romaniw. “Physically I am ready to go, there is no doubt. I just need to re-focus mentally on my goal in the next 24 hours and settle from my travel and new surroundings.”
Both Canadian athletes will have to be at their very best during the rounds to qualify for the finals. Romaniw’s first race is against the world record holder David Rudisha of Kenya who will likely cruise through the rounds saving himself for the final. He has run as fast as 1:40.91 and holds the three fastest times in history, as well as six of the eight fastest times. He has run under 1:43.00 at least 11 times in his career.
David Rudisha, Kenya 1:43.35
Alfred Kipketer, Kenya 1:43.73
Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, France 1:43.88
Taoufik Makhloufi, Algeria 1:43.92
Brandon McBride, Canada 1:43.95
The semi-finals follow on Saturday and the finals go Monday, the 15th.
The rounds start Friday at 6:10 AM PST or 9:10 EST and can be viewed as with all Olympic coverage on CBC online and broadcast live.
20K Race Walk
Vancouver’s Evan Dunfee finished 10th today in the Rio Olympic 20K Race Walk, recording a time of 1:20:49.
The winner was Wang Zhen of China who finished in the time of 1:19.14, second was Cai Zelin also of China, who finished 12 seconds back while Australian Dan Bird-Smith finished third to win the bronze medal in the time of 1:19:37.
Dunfee is the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games defending gold medallist and national record holder with his personal best time of 1:20:13.
Winnipeg’s Nicole Sifuentes, Toronto’s Gabriela Stafford and Victoria’s Hilary Stellingwerff raced the first round of the 2016 Rio Olympic 1500-metre event. There were three heats and a total of 42 athletes competing. Of the three Canadians only Sifuentes made the automatic qualifier to move onto the semi-finals taking place Sunday. She finished seventh during the third heat with a time of 4:07.43.
In the second heat Stafford finished ninth in the time of 4:09.45 and in the first heat Stellingwerff finished in seventh spot in 4:12.00.
This will be a heartbreaker for Stellingwerff who was cheated out of an opportunity to compete in the finals during the 2012 London Olympics as half of the finalists were later suspended for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. This time, it was just the luck of the draw; sometimes the first heat is a wait and see situation – the third heat was much faster.
Brianne Theisen-Eaton acquitted herself well in a strong race in the 100-metre hurdles with a time of 13.18, to finish in sixth position out all four heats. She raced the fourth and fastest heat, defeating all other competitors in the three other races. The winner was 2012 London Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis with her performance of 12.84.
In the high jump portion of the heptathlon, Theisen-Eaton finished one better in fifth position with her jump of 1.86m.
The winner was Nafissatou Thiam of Belgium with her jump of 1.98m.
During the shot put Theisen-Eaton finished eighth in Group A and 17th out of 29 athletes with a put of 13.45. The best throw of the day was by Thiam at 14.91m in group B.
During the 200-metre race Theisen-Eaton finished in ninth position with a time of 24.18, but seventh in the faster fourth heat.
Theisen-Eaton finds herself in sixth position after three events with a total point count of 1097; the top three are Ennis with 1149 for Great Britain, Akela Jones of Barbados with 1124 and Nadine Visser of the Netherlands with 1121 points.