Canadian team expecting big things from 54 athletes going to world track and field championships
30 women, 24 men look to improve on 4 medals won in 2019
Canada is sending a star-studded team to the track and field world championships as 30 women and 24 men, who have won a combined 15 Olympic medals, will compete at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., July 15-24.
The team is led by six-time Olympic sprint medallist Andre De Grasse, 2020 Olympic decathlon champion Damian Warner, and Moh Ahmed, who won silver in the 5000 metres in Tokyo last summer.
All three were absent from the national championships — Warner and Ahmed were out due to injury, De Grasse had COVID — but officials with Athletics Canada have said they expect all three to be 100 per cent for the world championships.
"We have had some great performances at national championships last week in a variety of events. We were also missing some athletes who will be at worlds, so we are anticipating some great results overall in Eugene," Athletics Canada head coach Glenroy Gilbert said in a statement. "With the world championships as our benchmark event, we're expecting the athletes to perform at their very best and this is our strongest team."
Canada is coming off one of its most successful Olympic performances, having won six medals at the Tokyo Games last summer. At the previous world championships in 2019 in Doha, Canada won four medals — one silver and three bronze.
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Along with de Grasse, Warner and Ahmed, there is a long list of podium threats for Canada at worlds.
Shot putter Sarah Mitton is coming off a second-place finish at the Diamond League event in Sweden after smashing the Canadian record during nationals in Langley with a throw of 20.33 metres.
Sprinter Aaron Brown had his fourth career sprint double at nationals, winning both the 100m and 200m. Teammate Jerome Blake, who will be a part of Canada's 4x100m relay team with Brown, De Grasse and Brendon Rodney, finished second in both events.
Marco Arop, who made the 800m semifinal in Tokyo, is a threat to reach the top three in Eugene, with teammate Brandon McBride, the national record-holder in the event, not far behind after finishing second to Arop at last week's national championships.
Race walker Evan Dunfee is looking to win his second worlds medal and will compete in the 35km. He won bronze in the 50km at the 2019 world championships, the first Canadian to reach the podium in the event and which he matched at the Tokyo Olympics, but the distance has since been discontinued in both competitions.
Notably absent is middle-distance runner Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, who holds seven Canadian records between indoor and outdoor track. The Toronto runner shut down her season in mid-June because of a back injury. DeBues-Stafford finished sixth in the 1,500 at the 2019 world championships before rising to fifth in Tokyo.
In the women's hammer throw event, Camryn Rogers is poised to have one of her best international meets yet. She holds both the Canadian and NCAA records.
Alysha Newman is back in competition form after spending most of last season recovering from a concussion. She won the pole vault last week in Langley and says she's confident going into worlds.
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Women's relay team earns final spot
Also heading to worlds for Canada is the women's 4x100m relay team after it was moved up in the world rankings because of a Nigerian doping infraction.
Canada, ranked 17th, was one spot behind Nigeria with only the top 16 teams making the world championships. But Nigeria was disqualified this week after team member sprinter Blessing Okagbare was banned for doping infractions.
Canada's foursome of Khamica Bingham, Jacqueline Madogo, Leya Buchanan, and Sade McCreath ran a season-best time of 43.03 seconds at the Birmingham Diamond League in May, moving them up to the 17th spot in the rankings.
"The women have worked hard this spring and have been clawing their way back into the top-16 spot," Gilbert told CBC Sports. "Their performance in Birmingham earlier this season set them up for this excellent news."
This is the second time this year Canadian sprinters have benefitted from a doping infraction by another country's athlete.
In May, the Canadian men's 4x100-metre relay team was upgraded to silver in Tokyo after Great Britain's sprinter CJ Ujah was found guilty of a doping violation.
CBC Sports will have full coverage of the world championships from Oregon with live streams beginning July 15.