With 27 athletes competing on Super Saturday at the Canadian Track and Field Championships, the opportunity for a strong medal haul was high and the the athletes did not disappoint bringing home seven medals including three gold.
Wheelchair racer Josh Cassidy kicked things off with his third win of the championship, taking the T54 800 metres in a time of one minute and 41.61 seconds. Each of the three victories had a very distinct feel to it with last night’s being a hard charge around silver medalist Alexandre Dupont after Dupont surged to the front as the racer’s approached the bell.
“You never really know how it’s going to go, no matter how you plan something,” said the Paralympian after the race. ” You always have a bit of an idea or a couple of ideas and then you just need to be able to run with it on the fly and then go with it. ”
Cassidy certainly did go with it he would not relent, pushing hard at Dupont from 400 to 600 metres. As the pair approached the home stretch Cassidy had a firm handle on the lead as he sailed through to yet another victory.
Next to step atop the podium was Lauren Gale as she captured her first Canadian U20 championship, taking the 400 metres in a time of 54.37 seconds. The national leader in the event all season was pleased with the result. “It feels pretty good. I knew I had some good competition to run against and I’m just happy to bring home the gold.”
The final gold of the evening came from Kevin Robertson as he owned the U20 3000m steeplechase, setting the pace and running away from the field to win in a personal best time of 9:13.94. “I wanted to win, but I also wanted to run fast so I knew I was going to go to the front and run hard,” said Robertson of his race plan. Robertson, who will run for the Syracuse Orangemen this fall moves to seventh on the club’s all-time list with his time Saturday night, bumping coach Kirk Dillabaugh out of the top 10.
Joining Robertson on the podium was teammate Will Cox who snagged bronze in a personal best time of nine minutes and 26.34 seconds. For Cox, his race plan was simple, “I came in hoping for a medal and just put myself in that spot from the start.” This was the second time this season the pair of Robertson and Cox had finished in 1-3 in a major championship after doing so over the 2000 metre steeplechase at OFSAA.
For Melissa Bishop-Nriagu, her return to the Canadian Championships didn’t quite have the Cinderalla ending many had anticipated as she placed second in a time of 2:02.40, falling short of the World Championship standard of 2:00.60. The 2017 champion at 800 metres sat out the 2018 season with the birth of her daughter Corinne last July and was hoping to use this year’s event to regain her title and qualify for Doha.
“I obviously didn’t tackle any of my goals I came here to do. I was hoping to win and get the world standard. I think now is about getting ready for October and getting over and trying to catch standard and get to Worlds and really prepare to be there.”
Bishop pushed the pace early on, hitting the bell in the lead at 59 seconds. As she extended the lead through 600 metres, the pack narrowed the gap as they entered the home stretch setting up just another of the many photo finishes from the Championship. With the pack running four wide, a gap opened and the University of Toronto’s Madeline Kelly snuck past Bishop-Nriagu to edge her by three hundredths of a second for gold.
When Oluwasegun Makinde stepped onto the track for this year’s Championship, it was not for his customary run at 100 or 200 metres. Rather, the two time Olympian returned to an event he had success in as a junior, the 110 metre hurdles. Makinde, who was once the Canadian High School record holder in the event, captured silver Saturday night in a time of 14.29 seconds.
Makinde who spent some time training the event last season at Louisiana State University has largely been away from the hurdles since being a finalist at the USport Championships in 2013.
“[Hurdles] two and three, not rough. Middle was alright. Seven, eight, nine were a bit rough. Came off ten and just ran home. I’m not going to lie. I was trying to stay close to Damian [Warner] because my technique just isn’t their yet,” said the former University of Ottawa athlete in a frank description of his finals race. ”
The final medal of the evening came from Divya Biswal in the triple jump. The Club record holder managed a best leap of 12.67 metres to take silver, improving upon her bronze from the 2018 Championships.