P.E.I. sprinter qualifies for Olympics with record run
Jared Connaughton has landed a spot on Canada's Olympic team for the Games in Beijing in August, despite facing what some would consider serious training challenges as he developed his talent.
Connaughton won the 200-metre Canadian title at the Olympic qualifying meet in Windsor, Ont., on the weekend with a time of 20.34 seconds, a new championship record. The previous record of 20.40 seconds was set in 1986 by Atlee Mahorn.
Connaughton's home of Charlottetown is an unlikely spot for the development of sprinters. There is no real tradition of track and field in the province, and no proper training facilities for athletes interested in the sport.
"I trained on soccer fields, I trained on gravel tracks, I trained on sand dunes. At the time I didn't know any different," Connaughton told CBC News.
"I wanted to run fast and I believed I could be an Olympian one day, and I'm a month away from that."
One of Connaughton's main training tracks was a school hallway, about 150 metres long, at Charlottetown's Holland College. He did have one early advantage. One of his first coaches was Dave (Eli) MacEachern, the Island's only gold-medal Olympian, who won the bobsleigh in 1998.
Connaughton is no longer training on P.E.I. He now works in Texas in some of the best facilities in the world.
Canada's Olympic coach calls him one of the brightest young stars on the team. Sprinting was once a highlight of Canada's Olympic squad, and Connaughton believes this year's team could surprise some people.
"A lot of people say this group of sprinters aren't quite what it used to be, but I think we're out here to prove that wrong," he said.
The official announcement of Canada's Olympic track and field team will be made Monday.