2022 SET TO BE BANNER YEAR FOR CANADIAN TRACK AND FIELD ATHLETES
The past 2 years have been a nightmare for everyone around the world with Covid-19 creating a pandemic scenario experienced once every century or so. Sport has been forced to the sidelines with track and field athletes performing to empty stadiums on rare occasions. Is this Omicron variant surge the final peak, before a slow return to normalcy?
Plans are in place for a World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia on March 18-20 with a very busy international outdoor season starting with the FISU World University Games in Chengdu, China on June 26-July 7. The World Athletics Championships are set for Eugene, Oregon July 15-24 followed by the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, United Kingdom August 6-16.
Athletics Canada has organized an extensive domestics series of events leading to the Canadian Championships and Trials in Langley, BC on June 22-26 to select the athletes to compete for Canada this summer.
The news comes at a time when race directors and athletes alike are working hard to build momentum after a dearth of races in 2020, followed by a 2021 outdoor season compromised by ongoing COVID-19 and travel restrictions. Nigel Hole, Race Director of the Harry Jerome Track Classic, is thrilled that his meet is included in the Tour’s schedule, and said recognition by World Athletics should help to rebuild any lost momentum.
"Harry Jerome has always been one of the better international meets, and having it be part of the Continental Tour will put it on the radar of more international athletes and will help build its reputation for years to come.”
Hole says that, last year, The Harry Jerome organizing committee worked hard to host a competitive meet despite pandemic restrictions, and were rewarded by some of the best athletic performance the event had ever seen: race walker Evan Dunfee and 5,000m specialist Luc Bruchet, among others, qualified for Tokyo at that meet. Still, Hole said last year’s event suffered from a lack of international – or even interprovincial – competition. “A spot on the Tour is a good step back towards normal,” said Hole. “And it could make the Jerome really strong, and pair really well with the World Championships in Oregon,” which begins one month later on July 15.
Canadian athletes like Regan Yee are just as pleased to hear about the Tour. Yee used last year's 2021 Tokyo Qualifying series to hit the 3,000m steeplechase Olympic standard and punch her ticket to the Games. As travel restrictions linger, she sees the opportunity of competing in Silver and Bronze-labeled races at home as a huge advantage.
"Being able to stay in the country takes away a lot of the stress of travelling, and generally the more relaxed I am the better I perform,” she said. “Having Canada be included in the WA Continental Tour means that my races would also be worth more in the ranking system which could be extremely important for future team qualifications”
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