Season-best performance powers Canada to 5th in relay
Despite having qualified for the men's 4x100-metre relay final in eighth spot, Canada ran a season's best Saturday to snatch a credible fifth place at the world track and field championships in Berlin.
Coach Glenroy Gilbert made one change to the team from the preliminaries, replacing leadoff runner Hank Palmer with Sam Effah, who ran a blazing first leg.
Jamaica set a championship record of 37.31 seconds, easily beating Trinidad and Tobago, which recorded a new national record of 37.62. Britain claimed the bronze in 38.02.
The United States was disqualified during Friday's semifinals after the British team drew the judges' attention to an exchange-zone violation.
The Canadians had hoped for a top-six finish and were well pleased with their placing in the finals. There is reason to believe the team can run faster in future years.
Jared Connaughton, who ran the third leg, received the baton from Oluseyi Smith and put in a blazing turn before handing off to anchorman Bryan Barnett, the Canadian 100- and 200-metre champion.
"I think I left Oluseyi a little bit and I ran up Bryan's butt, so there is plenty of room to improve," Connaughton said. "I will say we will take it for now, but I think this is a 37-high [seconds] team, I really do."
"I don't think we were saying that two years ago. I think the big thing is we have to all improve our individual races so at the 2011 IAAF world championships, we can get on the podium."
Women's relay team comes up short
For the first time since the 2001 world championships, Canada fielded a women's 4x400 relay team, but their chances of being in the first three automatic qualifying spots in the preliminaries were remote.
They were drawn against Russia, Jamaica, Germany, Great Britain and Cuba, who finished in that order.
Canadian 400-metre champion Esther Akinsulie led off and handed the baton to Adrienne Power in seventh place. Jenna Martin ran the third leg, handing off to Carline Muir — who had failed to meet the individual 400-metre qualifying standard before the worlds.
A year ago Muir ran in the Olympic semifinals in that event. On Saturday, she burned up the track the first 200 metres in a valiant effort to catch the Cubans, but the margin was too great.
Canada finished sixth, out of the qualifying spots, and managed a season's best time of three minutes 29.17 seconds. Russia's winning time was 3:23.80.
"We just wanted to go out and run our best and we did a season's best," Akinsulie said. "It was our first time being together. Everyone is extremely happy with our performance, and can't wait until next year."
Running the relay was small consolation for Muir, who had shown so much promise a year ago under former coach Kevin Tyler, who has since joined UK Athletics on contract.
"I still wish I ran my individual race. I think I would have done extremely well," she admitted. "I wish they put me in, but it's my own fault. I didn't make the standard this year.
"I had a lot of ups and downs. I lost two coaches in one year. I trained hard for this, but my motivation was down a little bit. With all that's going on I can still go out and run a strong leg."
In the final of the women's hammer throw, Perth, Ont., native Sultana Frizell reached 70.88 metres on her second toss, which got her into the top eight and in the running for an additional three throws, but she could not improve upon that distance and wound up 10th.
"I did okay. I thought I had more in me, but it didn't come out," she said. "I am a little disappointed. It was exciting to be in the world competition for sure. I threw over 70 metres, so I am happy with that."