Angela Whyte to hurdle at Jerome on July 10

Veteran Edmonton hurdler Angela Whyte targets world medal 

derek-vandiest

BY  ,EDMONTON SUN

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Angela Whyte, shown competing at the 2013 world championships in Moscow, burst onto the scene with a sixth-place finish at the 2004 Olympics, and still covets a medal at the world championships. (Reuters)

The decorated hurdler wants what her peers have and has little intention of hanging up the spikes soon.

It’s what keeps Whyte going, year after year, meet after meet, training session after training session.

“I’ve been doing this for so long and I think (my longevity) is a combination of things,” Whyte said. “I love the sport. First and foremost, I truly love the sport.

“But there is also this looming thing that I haven’t quite had that success. Perdita (Felicien) has her World Championship medals. Then Priscilla (Lopes-Schliep) has her Olympic medal. And I’ve had a few medals at the Pan Am and Commonwealth Games, which are amazing, but I’m still sort of hoping in these next two years that I can get to that stage of a World Championship medal.”

The road to the next World Championships goes through Edmonton for Whyte, who will be among the headliners at the Edmonton International Track Classic this weekend at Foote Field.

Whyte has become a regular at the event, which continues to grow from humble beginnings.

“This is something that resonates with me,” Whyte said. “I think we need an event like this in Canada and Edmonton is a perfect place for this. So whatever I can do to help it continue to develop, to make it what we want it to be in this city, I want to be a part of it.

“I am very passionate about this sport and I know what this sport offers to everybody.”

Whyte, 34, burst onto the scene 10 years ago, with a sixth-place finish at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

She has represented Canada at two Olympics and six World Championships.

Last year, Whyte placed a career-best sixth at the World Championships in Moscow, validating her stature among the world’s elite.

“My personality is loyalty and I’m loyal to the sport,” Whyte said. “For all the ups and downs, I’m very loyal to the sport and that’s another reason why I’ve stuck with it. When you’re loyal, you just don’t leave.”

An Edmonton product, Whyte was part of the golden generation of Canadian hurdlers, which included Felicien and Lopes-Schliep.

Their success has inspired track athletes throughout the country.

“I think what happens is, you see somebody become successful and it opens up a door,” Whyte said. “When you don’t have someone that you can model yourself after, if you don’t see another Canadian being successful in something, you think it’s not possible.

“When Perdita won the gold medal at the World Championships in Paris in 2003, all of a sudden, you starting thinking, ‘I can do that, too’. She’s an amazing example of what you can do and not sticking to this idea that we’re only a hockey country or can only do well in winter sports. You have to have that door opened to possibilities.”

Whyte continues to enjoy the work it takes to train and compete at an elite level. While Felicien has retired and Lopes-Schliep is currently on a hiatus, Whyte perseveres.

“My coach and I talk about this all the time, you have to be a little bit crazy,” Whyte said. “There is something wrong with professional athletes in general and track athletes, there is definitely something wrong to continue day in and day out to make that sacrifice.

“We don’t have a normal life and a lot of us delay having families and we don’t take summer vacations. It’s just one of those things where it’s really tough, but we all sacrifice for something.”

Even if Whyte is not able to achieve her goal of an Olympic or World Championship medal, the local hurdler will still have a place in Canadian track and field annals.

“I’m always that person that is always going to be around,” Whyte said. “I see myself kind of like Cal Ripken Jr. If you take myself, Priscilla and Perdita, we each have our role and I feel like I’m the iron woman. No matter what, I keep going. I’m kind of like the Energizer Bunny, but not as cute and cuddly.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

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