Lanni Marchant sends strong message by 'crushing' Olympic marathon standard
Marchant could run both 10 km, marathon in Rio
Qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics was the main objective for Canada's Lanni Marchant in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Sunday, but there there was another victory within that.
Back in 2012, she was left off of the team heading to the London Olympics, and endured an ensuing appeal and lawsuit, which didn't go her way.
Flash forward three years and Marchant has now qualified for Rio in both the 10,000 metres and the marathon. She's undoubtedly in a much better position, heading into an Olympic year.
"2012 sucked, there's no nicer way of putting it," Marchant said. "It was really hard for me. But I came back and I made myself a better runner because of it."
The Rio Olympic qualifier was also on the agenda for Eric Gillis of Antigonish, N.S., who ran 2:11:30 to score a likely berth on the start line at the 2016 Games.
"A big load [off my mind], I can plan now a little bit more," said Gillis, a two-time Olympian. "It's not official, I still have to wait to see what other Canadians do.
Achieving standard doesn't necessarily mean a spot on the team. Canada will take the top three men and women with the qualifying time. Having three other Canadian men and women achieve the mark is highly unlikely though.
Marchant and Gillis are the third and fourth Canadian marathoners to qualify for Rio — Krista DuChene already qualified on the women's side, and Reid Coolsaet on the men's side.
Coolsaet feels like it's a really exciting time right now for Canadian distance running.
"I think we all feed off of it," he said. "When you see somebody else run well it motivates you, and it helps you to believe that you can take that next step too."
Marchant takes some extra satisfaction as well, remembering her struggles in getting left off Team Canada in 2012. She recalled being told that she wasn't going to be good enough, and wasn't seen as a rising star in the sport.
"It's not that I'm doing it out of spite. I'm doing it for myself. I wanted to know that I'm good enough," she stated. "It's now four years later and they [Athletics Canada] have even made the standard 5 seconds faster, and I crushed it."
The Toronto Waterfront Marathon was Marchant's last race for the season and she plans to compete much less next year on the road to Rio.
With files from The Canadian Press