The motto for today’s morning session at the Canadian Track and Field Championships was simple – win and advance. In total, five athletes advanced to finals set for Sunday, highlighted by strong showing in the 400 metre hurdles.
Defending silver medalist Saj Alhaddad kicked things off with a comfortable victory in the senior men’s event as he won his heat in 54.17 seconds. Alhaddad entered the championship on a bit of a high after setting the Club record in the 300m hurdles two weeks ago followed by the second fastest run of his career as he captured provincial silver. The 400 metre hurdle finals go Sunday morning at 10:45.
Alhaddad wasn’t the only one to win their hurdle heat, with U20 runners Helena Jovic and Leewinchel Jean coming back from last weekend’s Pan American Junior Championships to each win their heat in different ways.
Jean was business like about his description of his winning run of 55.42 seconds. “I was on the inside, so I just had to execute my race and make sure I was in the lead at the 200 metre mark,” described the future University of Windsor student. “I saw some guy at the 150 mark and I just had to push past him.”
For Jovic, hitting hurdle two seemed to throw her a bit, but she managed to maintain her composure as she pushed back to take her heat in 1:02.74. As for how she looks to clean things up for tomorrow, Jovic’s recipe is simple, “get a lot of rest, have a clear mindset and have a smooth race.”
While she didn’t win, Mary Ollier did manage to advance on time. The 24 year old was all smiles when it was announced her time of 1:01.93 would be good enough to move. Ollier, who had been pushing for spot in last year’s final in Ottawa until a crash running off the final hurdle pushed her out of contention, was gleeful at the opportunity to race in her first national final. “I’m just so happy to be here. I’ll have fun,” she said.
The morning session concluded with two finals on the track, each feature a Lion runner. For Joe Fast, he expected a quicker pace than Friday’s heats and stuck to his plan of just going with it. Unfortunately for Fast, he fell out of contention around 900 metres, but was able to maintain some contact with the top five as he finished sixth in 3:55.89.
In the women’s race, Nina Whitford looked strong, holding well with the chase pack through the bell. Unfortunately for Whitford, she got caught up with one of the other competitors and took a tumble with about 350 metres to go. While she quickly recovered, she did fall back in the standings, dropping to 11th in 4:45.74.
Action continues tonight at Claude Robillard in Montreal lots of Lions in action, including Melissa Bishop and her run for another Canadian Championship and a spot at the World Championships in Doha.