By John MacKinnon for Athletics Canada
At a cursory glance, you might think Glenroy Gilbert is slightly out of position as the interim head coach for Canada’s national track and field team in 2017.
After all, this is the first seasonal leg of a four-year journey to the next Olympic Games, in Tokyo in 2020. Gilbert attained fame as the second man on Canada’s 4×100-metre relay team that won gold at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, as well as at the ’95 and ’97 IAAF World Championships in Athletics.
In Atlanta, Gilbert took the baton from leadoff runner Robert Esmie and handed off to Bruny Surin, who delivered it to anchor Donovan Bailey, then the world record holder in the 100 metres.
Less than a year following Rio, where Canada won six medals in track and field, Gilbert, who turns 50 on Aug. 31, was given the mandate to lead the Canadian team to the 2017 IAAF World’s in London from Aug. 4-13.
Canada’s team, which showed flickers of promise at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, when Derek Drouin won bronze in the men’s high jump and Canada’s then-unheralded 4×100-metre relay team demonstrated quality by winning a bronze in their event, only to be disqualified for a lane violation.
Three years later in Beijing at the IAAF World’s Canada won a record eight medals, including two golds — in high jump for Drouin and in pole vault for Shawnacy Barber. By winning six medals at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, Canada underscored its legitimacy as a factor in international track and field.
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