Four Ottawa Lions boarded planes headed for Edmonton Wednesday morning as they get set to compete in this weekend’s Pan American Junior Championship. While Claire Smith and Erinn Stenman-Fahey are first year juniors, they are no stranger to international competition. Erinn was a semi-finalist at last year’s World Junior Championships as a 17 year old, while Claire ran at this year’s World Cross Country Championships. For the men, both Matt Bedard and Steve Nkusi will be making their international debut in Edmonton.
Claire Smith is scheduled to compete on the opening day of competition in the women’s 3000m. Claire qualified for the event by virtue of her commanding victory at the Canadian Junior Championships on the same Foote Field track earlier this month. She is the top ranked athlete in the event with a best of 9:22.75 set earlier this year.
On Saturday, Matt Bedard will take to the line in a very competitive men’s 400m hurdle semi-final where he’ll square off against one of the best juniors in the world, Marvin Williams of Jamaica. Matt, the current Canadian junior champion, will need to place in the top 2 or be among the top 2 fastest losers to advance to the final later in the day.
Also competing Saturday will be Erinn Stenman-Fahey as she lines up in the women’s 800m timed final. A silver medallist at nationals, Erinn will likely have to dip under her personal best of 2:06.97 set last year in Eugene if she is to figure in the medals. The 800m field is highlight by world number one, Raevyn Rogers of the United States, who has run 1:59.71 this summer.
Rounding out the Lions contingent is Steve Nkusi who will look to recreate some of the magic that saw him capture his first national championship earlier this month when he takes to the high jump apron on Sunday. The University of Ottawa freshman is a relative newcomer to the event, having only begun training seriously for the event 14 months ago after playing competitive basketball previously. However, Nkusi has already raised his personal best to 2.10m, which ranks him 9th heading into the competition.
Lions schedule (all times Eastern)
Claire Smith – 3000m final – Friday @ 20h50
Matt Bedard – 400mH prelim – Saturday @ 15h10. Final @21h10
Erinn Stenman-Fahey – 800m final – Saturday @ 20h15
Steve Nkusi – High Jump Final – Sunday @ 19h10