The 33rd annual Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome Track Classic was remarkable as attendance exceeded 6000 track and field fans drawn by top stars of this sport on their Road to Rio. Led by Canada’s 2015 World Championship medalists, Derek Drouin, Melissa Bishop, Brianne Theisen-Eaton, Andre De Grasse and Ben Thorne, a cadre of international Olympic and World Championship medalists were attracted to Swangard Stadium. These included Ashton Eaton, Brenda Martinez, Shannon Rowbury and Jeremy Wariner of the United States. Many of the winners were mobbed post race by children seeking selfies and their autograph. Almost 400 athletes, including 25 Olympians from 13 countries benefitted from this international competition, as 31 of them recorded their personal best performances and 69 got their seasonal bests.
Two meet records one NTL record and one Canadian record were broken on the track. Canadian record holder, Melissa Bishop of Eganville, ON broke Diane Cummins’ mark of 1:59.78 in the 800m set 12 years ago, with her front running win in 1:58.79. This also broke her own National Track League record of 1:59.70 set in 2014 in Victoria. Melissa set the Canadian record of 1:57.52 in the semifinals of the World Championships in Beijing last summer. Her performance at the Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome Track Classic is the fourth best ever in her career. Under two days later, she duplicated her dominance with another victory at the Victoria International Track Classic with another great time of 1:58.90.
Bridget Franek of Mantua, Ohio ran 9:49.37 in the 3000m steeplechase breaking Maria Bernard’s record of 10:00.38 set last year. This 28 year old Penn State graduate was a finalist in the World Championships in Daegu, Korea and Olympic Games in London. She will be aiming for her second Olympic Games selection at the Us Olympic Trials in Eugene early July.
Brittni Wolczyk of Port Coquitlam, BC broke the Canadian junior record in the javelin as the University of Nebraska freshman launched the spear 53.76m. This NCAA qualifier broke Liz Gleadle Canadian U20 record mark of 52.36m set 9 years ago.
Andre De Grasse of Markham, ON won both the 100m and 200m, doubling up in the sprints for the first time this season. Clearly Andre and coach Stu McMillan are preparing for the rigors of the Canadian Olympic Trials in Edmonton July 7-10.
Andre may find some competition from Aaron Brown of Toronto, ON who has had a fast start to his season. Aaron, a USC graduate, has set personal bests already this year with 100m 9.96(2.0) and 200m 20.00(1.1) compared to seasonal bests of Andre with 100m 10.07(0.6) and 200m 20.16(-1.5). When using a correction for wind, these records of 2016 seasonal times become extremely close. Corrected 100m: Aaron 10.06/Andre 10.10 and 200m Andre 20.05/Aaron 20.12. Look for some close finishes at our Olympic Trials and if the wind is 2.00 m/s of less, perhaps some fast times. With 2 Canadians with best times of under 10 seconds, our 4x100m relay team may have a shot at the podium in Rio.