The final day of the 2019 Canadian Track and Field Championships got started with a bang Sunday as a quartet of 400 metre hurdlers lit up the track over a 20 minute span as the session got underway. With a Lion running each of the four hurdle finals, the medals, three in total, came fast and furious.
Veteran runner Saj Alhaddad was the first to step on the track and he had his eyes focused solely on the gold that alluded him a year ago. Unfortunately for Alhaddad he lost some time and focus on the backstretch as his shoe lace came undone and struck the third hurdle pretty hard.
“I was bit behind but I told myself, I need to remain calm to the finish and I did,” said Alhaddad of his mentality in the race. He would finish strong, crossing in 51.60 seconds, two hundredths out of top spot. “I just ran out of real estate. I tried to dive, but it’s a silver medal. I can’t be sad about that. ”
In the U20 men’s final, Leewinchel Jean entered as the favourite after posting the fastest time in qualifying and holding the fastest time in the country this season. However, the Championships weren’t even in Jean’s plans a couple months ago. “It’s my first nationals actually. It wasn’t in my plan like a month and a half ago before I won OFSAA. Then I won OFSAA so I was like, I might as well try my best and make it to national gold.”
Try his best he did. The recent Gisele Lalonde graduate lived up to the pre-final expectations, blasting out of the blocks and making up the stagger on most of the field by about the 150 metre mark before running away from the competition to win in 54.42 – a full second up on second place.
Helena Jovic rounded out the trio of hurdle medals with a silver in the U20 women’s race. However, a medal looked like it may have been out of the cards after Jovic smacked hurdle two for the second day. “It wasn’t as bad as the semis, but I told myself ‘It’s okay. You just have to recover from it.’ So I did that and was happy,” said Jovic of hitting the hurdle.
Jovic hit the overdrive button with 150 metres and began to claw back the field, metre by metre, in a move reminiscent of her OFSAA victory last month. Coming off the final hurdle in a virtual tie for third, the John McCrae grad was able to pick off one final runner, Shaleah Colaire of the Durham Legion, to finish in 1:00.86.
The Championships concluded with eight relay races and five medals for the Lions, including four golds. Among the golden performances, the U20 women’s 4×400 metre team of Audrey Gilmour, Doyin Ogunremi, Helena Jovic and Lauren Gale put forth one of the more impressive efforts as the quartet bested the field nearly four seconds as they took the title in three minutes and 48.24 seconds. The performance now ranks the women sixth in club history.
Other medal winning performances included the following:
Senior Men’s 4x100m GOLD 45.06
(Timothy Valentine, Alex Manuel, Kevin Nault, Sebastian Saville)
Senior Women’s 4x400m GOLD 3:52.57
(Mary Ollier, Maeliss Trapeau, Rebecca Brennan, Svetlana Martynova)
Senior Men’s 4x400m GOLD 3:17.48
(Saj Alhaddad, Andrew Heffernan, Stephen Evans, Sebastian Saville)
U20 Men’s 4x400m SILVER 3:25.28
(Sam Frankowski, Leewinchel Jean, Quinn Lyness, Zach Meredith)