Road To The Olympic Games


Canadian runner Taryn O'Neill posts top-10 finish at world U20 event

Middle-distance runner Taryn O'Neill from Lake Country, B.C., set a personal-best time of nine minutes 15.03 in the women's 3,000 metres to place ninth of 17 at the IAAF World U20 Championships on Wednesday. Canadian teammate Cameron Ormond was 15th in 9:27.51.

Runs personal-best time in 3,000m in Tampere, Finland

Taryn O'Neill, of Lake Country, B.C., set a personal-best time of nine minutes 15.03 in the 3,000 metres Wednesday to place ninth at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Finland. (Submitted by BC Athletics)

A memorable five-week stretch of running by Taryn O'Neill continued Wednesday at the IAAF World U20 Championships.

The 17-year-old from Lake Country, B.C., set a personal-best time of nine minutes 15.03 in the 3,000 metres to place ninth of 17 at Tampere Stadium in Finland. Cameron Ormond, 17, from Aurora, Ont., was 15th (9:27.51).

Nozomi Tanaka became the first-ever Japanese athlete to win the event at world U20s, pulling away from compatriot Yuna Wada to record a 8:54.01 PB. Wada, who placed fourth, led for much of the race running alongside Tanaka.

"The team strategy was to get out hard and dominate as much as possible," Tanaka told reporters while praising Wada, who played a big role in her success. "We were really surprised the Ethiopians started so slow so we knew we had a good chance."

Tanaka, whose mother is a 2:29:30 marathon runner, arrived in Finland atop the world U20 lists with a season-best 8:58.83.

Ethiopia's Meselu Berhe and Tsige Gebreselama passed Wada on the final lap to finish second and third, respectively.

Gold sweep at provincials

On June 2, O'Neill shone at the B.C. high school championships in Langley, where the Grade 12 George Elliott Secondary student broke a 23-year-old record to capture the 1,500 (4:23.02) and set another provincial mark in winning the 3,000 (9:24.82).

The world's best track and field athletes under 20-years-old compete in Tampere, Finland. 5:46:22

Eleven days later, O'Neill took the lead with about 150 metres from the finish in the two-mile race at the Brooks PR Invitational in Seattle and outperformed the race favourite, clocking 9:54.40 in an elite field of high school middle-distance runners from the United States.

Last July, O'Neill was a silver medallist in the 3,000 at the Pan American U20 Championships in Peru after running 9:22.05, a PB that broke the B.C. youth record that had stood for 30 years. At the time, the Okanagan Athletics Club member was the top-ranked athlete in the U20 category in Canada.

O'Neill, who will attend Villanova University in Pennsylvania in the fall, will enter Friday's 1,500 heats ranked 13th in the field with a time of 4:17.93.

The world's best track and field athletes under 20-years-old compete in Tampere, Finland. 4:13:34

Record-setting season

Ormond was runner-up in the senior girls 1,500 and 3,000 at last month's Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations Championships at York University in Toronto. Her time of 9:21.63 in the 3,000 was a meet record.

In May, the Grade 11 student at Aurora High School set meet records at the Central Region championships at York with her victories in the 1,500 and 3,000. Ormond's time of 4:33.74 in the 1,500 erased the mark set in 2007 by 2012 Canadian Olympian Sheila Reid, while her 9:46.24 effort in the 3,000 was more than 11 seconds faster than the previous record.

A member of the Newmarket Huskies Track Club, Ormond has a goal to race the 5,000 at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Last October, she was the female recipient of the new Future Hall of Famer Award by the Aurora Sports Hall of Fame.

Earlier Wednesday, several Canadians advanced to the semifinals of their respective events, including:

  • Men's 110-metre hurdles: Anastas Eliopoulos of Vancouver (13.58 seconds). Liam Mather from London, Ont., didn't advance but set a personal best of 13.93. Semifinal is Thursday at 9:40 a.m. ET.
  • Women's 400 hurdles: Xahria Santiago from Ajax, Ont., (58.09 seconds). Semifinal is Thursday at 11:50 a.m. ET.
  • Men's 400: Myles Misener-Daley of Hamilton (46.87 seconds) and Toronto's Khamal Stewart-Baynes (47.10). Semifinal is Thursday at 12:40 p.m. ET.
  • Women's 100: Deondra Green from Montreal (11.73 seconds). Semifinal is Thursday at 11 a.m. ET.

About the Author

Doug Harrison

Doug Harrison has covered the professional and amateur scene as a senior writer for CBC Sports since 2003. Previously, the Burlington, Ont., native covered the NHL and other leagues for Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc

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