By Gary Kingston
Two months shy of his 23rd birthday, sprinter James Linde says he’s as fast as he’s ever been. Personal bests last month in his favored 200 metres (20.85 seconds) and in the 100 (10.51) prove that.
But the 2017 Trinity Western University grad is also a realist. And with a path to national team status for world championships or Olympics blocked by a trio of in-their-prime burners, Linde is thinking it might be time to consider chasing speedsters from a patrol car and not in shorts and a singlet.
He’s going to run the 200m at the Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome Track Classic on June 28th, competing on his home track at Percy Perry Stadium in Coquitlam. And he’s hopeful of qualifying for the Canadian team for the World University Games in China in August. But that might mark the end of his competitive track career.
“I’m coming to terms with (a long career) not happening,” Linde said in an interview. “I just want to have fun with it this summer and then maybe retire. I’m trying to get into the police force. This season could be the last go-round, could be the end.”
Both his father and grandfather were police officers, so the “legacy” is calling.
He concedes though that it might be difficult to step away from the track, particularly after the excitement generated by a potential “breakout” season after that 20.85 in the 200 at a low-key meet in South Surrey. But he knows he’s unlikely to truly challenge the country’s top sprinters.
“It’s not a pessimist thing, it’s just that we’ve got three of the fastest Canadians of all time (contesting the 200 in Olympic hero Andre De Grasse, Brendon Rodney and Aaron Brown, all of whom have PBs of 20.00 or lower). It’s an amazing time in Canada for track right now in the sprints. I’m just on the outside looking in, although I’m farther along than I thought I would be.”
Linde, who wears an insulin pump as a result of being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 17, had an injury plagued 2016 and didn’t run much. He sheepishly admits that one of the injuries was a hamstring pull sustained when he and a buddy got a little too competitive while anchoring a fun relay for nine-year-old girls they were coaching.
“I wanted to catch him, went too hard and there went the hamstring,” he says with a chuckle.
He had a solid indoor season this winter, helping TWU capture its first U Sports (formerly CIS) indoor track title in February, winning the long jump and helping the Spartans to a pair of second-place finishes in relays.
“That was awesome, in the last year of my TWU career to put up our first banner. It was a really special moment.”
He’s looking for another special moment at the Jerome, which he last ran in 2015 at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby when he finished seventh in a 200-metre race won by American Wallace Spearmon, a world championships silver medalist.
With the track at Swangard unavailable this month, the meet has been moved to the cozy 1,400-seat Percy Perry Stadium
“It’s one of the fastest tracks (in the Lower Mainland),” Linde, a member of the Coquitlam Cheetahs track club, said of the Mondo synthetic rubberized surface. “And I’ve always run pretty well there.”
He says the 200-metre field is a “bit of a mystery to me at the moment,” but he hears organizers are trying to land some of the trio of in-their-prime burners
“I hope they get someone like that. I really get a kick out of racing some of the top guys in the country.”
Linde says the atmosphere should be special for this year’s Jerome. “They’ve already sold out, or are close to it, so it’s going to be packed and there’s so much enthusiasm for track in this country now with De Grasse’s amazing runs at the Olympics.
“That’s going to really amp me up. My parents bought 10 tickets to send out to extended family that want to watch, so that’s going to make it even more exciting.”
James Linde will join a strong field at the Jerome Track Classic which includes, Andre De Grasse, Melissa Bishop, Sasha Gollish, Damian Warner, Wilfred Koffi, Shavez Hart, Jerome Blake, Liz Gleadle, Shai-Anne Davis and Ella Nelson.
It is possible that all tickets will be sold before the day of the meet.
Richard K. Miller, Chair of Marketing for the Achilles Track and Field Society
reports that advance sales leave about only 600 tickets of the 3000 available.
Anyone who wishes to attend should go online at www.harryjerome.com now
to purchase the few remaining. Remember, seats are on a first come first serve basis.
Get there early to obtain a seat as general admission does not guarantee a seat