By GARY KINGSTON
BURNABY -- Is there Treasure to be found in the women’s high jump at Swangard Stadium on Thursday? Perhaps a 64-metre laser from Liz out of the javelin runway? Or, can @queenChristabel summon the long jump form that will lead her to a golden crown.
Canadian track and field Olympians Alyx Treasure, Liz Gleadle and Christabel Nettey, all of them from British Columbia, will continue building toward October’s World Athletics Championships in Qatar when they compete at the Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome International Track Classic.
The three have had quiet starts to 2019, so that makes it difficult to know what to expect from them at the Jerome. But all are capable of something significant.
There are other intriguing events on the schedule. Here are meet organizer Doug Clement’s Five to Watch:
Men’s 100 Metres: Toronto Aaron’s Brown has won two Diamond League races at 200 metres this season, including clocking a season-best 20.06 at Stockholm on May 30. An Olympic relay bronze medalist in 2016, Brown has a 100-metre personal-best of 9.96 and a season-best 10.13 in the 100.
Up-and-comer Jerome Blake, Jamaican born, Kelowna-raised and now training out of Coquitlam, set a personal-best of 10.20 earlier this month and is gunning for a spot on the Canadian relay team for the worlds. American veteran Remontay McClain, who ran 10.36 in May, was part of the U.S. gold medal-winning team in the 4x200 at the IAAF world relays and will challenge the two Canadians.
“Aaron hasn’t run that many 100s . . . but he knows he has to be better at 100 in order to be better at 200,” says Clement. “Obviously, we’ve got an eye on Jerome Blake and where he could end up in all this mix. He ran that 10.20 in Calgary and, measured against Aaron’s current best, they’re pretty close.
“Throwing in (McClain) adds a little spice to this.”
Women’s 800 Metres: Jerome fan favorite Melissa Bishop, the Canadian record holder, had to pull out Monday after suffering a hamstring strain in training on the weekend, but there is still a strong field of runners capable of pushing the two minute mark.
Former SFU stalwarts Jessica Smith (1:59.86 PB) and Lindsey Butterworth (2:00.81) will be challenged by Americans Hannah Green (2:00.09) and Sabrina Southerland (2:00.72). And young Canadians Maite Bouchard and Madelaine Kelly ran 2:02.01 and 2:02.08, respectively, 10 days ago in Guelph, Ont., putting them just inside the top 50 in the IAAF season-best list.
Smith is running strong after more than a year off to rehab foot problems and Butterworth seems poised to become just the seventh Canadian woman to go under two minutes.
“I give Jessica credit for fighting back,” said Clement. “Lindsey likes to front run and just doesn’t seem to collapse. She hasn’t broken two minutes yet, but this might be her day.”
Men’s high jump: B.C products Mike Mason, a well-travelled veteran at 33, and Django Lovett, 26, went 1-2 at last year’s Jerome with leaps of 2.21 metres and 2.11, respectively. But Mason is tied for the world lead this season with a jump of 2.31 in California in early April and Lovett tied his personal best of 2.30 in California later that month.
“This is going to be real battle,” says Clement. “We take these guys for granted because they’re locals, but in terms of world ranking they’re exceptional.”
American Rickey Robertson, whose personal best of 2.32 came four years ago, will challenge the two Canadians. Clement says also keep an eye Alhaji Mansaray, a 24-year-old from Winnipeg with a 2.20 PB.
“He’s got lots of dynamic spring, looks more like a basketball player.”
Women’s 3,000-metre steeplechase: Regan Yee, the Trinity Western University grad out of South Hazelton, is hoping a deep field and a strong effort by the designated pacer will get her under the 9:40.00 standard to qualify for worlds.
Yee ran a 9:37.31 personal best last spring, the third fastest all-time by a Canadian woman, and believes she can challenge the national record of 9:29.82.
“This is going to be a very, very interesting race,” says Clement, noting that 2016 Olympian Maria Bernard, a UBC grad, ran 9:42.90 in Portland a week ago. “The meet record is 9:46 and there’s a good chance of it getting crushed.”
Men’s 400 metres: American Paul Dedewo, with a personal best of 44:43 is the favorite. He anchored the U.S. team that was just edged at the tape by Trinidad and Tobago in the 4x400 at the world relays, but was later disqualified for a lane violation.
Two other Americans, Alrich Bailey (45.29 SB) and Dontavius Wright (46.12 SB) are in the field, while Austin Cole, a 20-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta, with a personal best of 46:02 and Coquitlam’s Nathan George (45.94) carry Canadian hopes. Cole was part of Canada’s bronze medal-winning 4x400 mixed relay team at the world relays.
“If (Dedewo) is lively, he just might pull some of our guys into a pretty good time,” said Clement.
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