Canadian heptathletes rue missed chances
It was a night of mixed emotions and missed opportunities for Canada's two heptathletes at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.
Canadian champion Ruky Abdulai scored a personal-best total of 6,212 points but finished well back in 13th place, while Jessica Zelinka finished a disappointing ninth with 6,268 points. Neither was satisfied with her performance.
Reportedly in the best shape of her life, Zelinka came to these championships expecting to compete for a podium place and hit 6,500 points. She had placed fifth in the prestigious Gotzis multi-event competition earlier in the season with 6,453 points, so she could hardly be accused of being too ambitious. But something wasn't right.
"I didn't really know what to think," she said. "The points here don't matter, the position doesn't matter. Honestly, I have it in me now. I don't need to improve anywhere, I just need to put it together and I need to start believing in it because these past two days I had it in me to medal and there was no way I am going to doubt that I am not able to get to that level.
"The only person getting in the way is me. I have to stop reaching for more and hoping for more and wishing and crossing my fingers that something miraculous is going to happen because, when I look at the scores, nothing miraculous needs to happen.
"That's what I'm leaving this world championship with."
The 30-year-old six-time Canadian champion is looking forward to seeing her infant daughter, Anika, and husband, Nathaniel Miller, back in Calgary before tackling another heptathlon in Talence, France next month.
While Zelinka was searching for answers, her compatriot could point to two injuries that restricted her performance, robbing her of a decent position.
"I had some personal bests," Abdulai said. "I am happy with my performance but it's too bad that after the hurdles I had to go through the entire competition with an injury. I strained my hamstring.
"The [Canadian team] physios, they are my heroes. They kept loosening up everything. Every time I went to the track they loosened it up. I am happy I gave it all I had. During the 800 metres, with about 120 metres to go, I felt it was time to go because I had so much energy, but I could feel the hamstring so I fought my way through. I thank God."
Abdulai, who has also been treating a sore knee, has vowed to rest the remainder of the season so she can better prepare for a London Olympics berth. Asked if she is pleased with having switched her focus this year from the long jump to the multi-event heptathlon, she responded quickly.
"I am pleased, but I think next year I am going to try and qualify for both because the schedule is pretty flexible for me," she said. "The first two days in London is the heptathlon, and then long jump is at the end so I am going to try and qualify for both."
Reigning world and European champion Jessica Ennis of Great Britain was dethroned by Russian Tatyana Chernova, 6,880 point to 6,751. Jennifer Oeser of Germnay claimed the bronze medal with 6,572.