Canadian track and field team unveiled for Rio Olympics

Distance runner Lanni Marchant, who will compete in both the marathon and the 10,000 metres, is among the 65 Canadian track and field athletes bound for Rio on the heels of last week's Olympic trials in Edmonton.

Lanni Marchant entered in both the marathon and 10,000-metres

Canada's Lanni Marchant will run both the 10,000-metres and marathon in Rio, after it was in doubt if Athletics Canada would allow her to run both events. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)

It promises to be Canada's strongest team at the Olympics and on Monday, Athletics Canada announced the 65 athletes bound for Rio on the heels of last week's Olympic trials in Edmonton.

It's a deep and varied team with podium threats in both the track events and the field events.

One of the biggest questions to be answered was if Lanni Marchant would be entered in the women's marathon, along with the 10,000-metres. The 31-year-old will indeed run the combination in Rio, after Athletics Canada was originally non-commital about allowing her to do both, sparking a social media campaign and petition.

"I'm really excited and happy," said Marchant, the national record holder in the marathon. "We kind of
just stayed the course. My coach, his philosophy since the end of May was forge on (regardless of the decision). We control what we can which is training, and everything else will fall into place as it's supposed to," she said. 

It will mark the first time that a Canadian has attempted such a double at the Olympics.

The men's sprints are headlined by Andre De Grasse, from Markham, Ont., who won the 100-metres in Edmonton. The 21-year-old has sprinted into the national spotlight since a breakout summer in 2015, highlighted by two bronze medals at Beijing worlds.

"I'm out there having fun," said De Grasse. "My family, my supporters they do a great job of keeping the pressure off of me, so I'm going to go out there and have fun and don't think about it too much. For me, this is my first Games, so I'm excited to be here. Obviously I want to get on the podium, so I'm going to do my best," he said.

The team also includes breakout 200 champion Brendon Rodney, Brampton, Ont., whose run of 19.96 seconds made him the second Canadian to run under 20-seconds, after De Grasse.

Both sprinters will be joined by Aaron Brown, Mobolade Ajomale, Akeem Haynes, and Oluwasegun Makinde on the Canadian 4 x 100 relay trying to match a bronze medal from 2015 worlds. Justyn Warner and Gavin Smellie were left off and will not get a chance to redeem Canada's bronze medal disqualification from London 2012.

Canada won eight medals (two gold, three silver and three bronze) at last year's IAAF world championships in Beijing, improving the national record of five in 2013, and good for seventh on the world medal table.

Canada sent 51 athletes to the world championships in 2015, considered the most competitive world event outside the Olympics.

In the women's sprints, Toronto's Crystal Emmanuel will have a chance to improve on her 21st-place finish at London 2012 after she won the 200 over the weekend to earn a trip to Rio. The 24-year-old was also national champion in the 100-metres and will be on the 4 x 100 relay. 

Other Canadian medallists from Beijing who were named include 2015 world champions Derek Drouin (high jump) and Shawn Barber (pole vault), plus 2015 medallists Melissa Bishop in the women's 800, Brianne Theisen-Eaton (heptathlon), Damian Warner (decathlon), and Ben Thorne in men's 20-km race walk.

Drouin was the only medallist for Canada at London 2012 with his bronze in the high jump. 

The track and field events begin on Aug. 12, the second Friday of Rio 2016, and run until closing ceremony day on Aug. 21.

With files from The Canadian Press