Track and Field

Track and field world championships: Canadians continue to shine

Canada’s performance at the 2015 IAAF world track and field championships continues to surprise, and on Wednesday several runners advanced to the next round in their events with solid efforts.

Several runners advance Wednesday in Beijing

Canadian runs a time of 2:00.23 in heat 3. 3:55

Canada's performance at the 2015 IAAF world track and field championships continues to surprise, and on Wednesday several runners advanced to the next round in their events with solid efforts.

Both Canadian entries in the women's 800 metres advanced to the semifinals.

With the top three runners in each heat qualifying automatically, Melissa Bishop put herself in good position early on in her race. Then, with just 40 metres remaining, she saw a gap open ahead of her and passed between the two leaders to win her heat in a time of 2:00.23.

Bishop showed no signs of having extended herself.

"I felt comfortable going in," she said. "My end goal was to be top three, I didn't want to qualify with a little q [as a wild card who finishes outside the top three but advances based on time]. I really wanted to secure that top spot. That's what that little slip between those two girls was about, because I didn't know what was coming behind me."

The 27-year-old from Eganville, Ont., had a sports hernia in the spring and also turned her ankle as she prepared for her first outdoor competition in May. Nevertheless, she came back to win the Pan Am Games 800m gold against what she called a "pretty spectacular field" and admits that gave her confidence coming to Beijing.

"I'm so thankful for being here and being strong," she said "You take for granted being in shape and being at this level. As athletes we work so hard day in, day out to get here. I'm really proud."

Bishop said the Canadian team is flying high with four medals already in Beijing, including a gold by pole vaulter Shawn Barber and a bronze in the marquee men's 100m by Andre De Grasse.

"We're on cloud nine," she said. "I'm really proud of the team and I think our head coach Peter Eriksson is really looking forward to the rest of the competition."

Joining Bishop in the 800m semifinals will be Fiona Benson, who continued her sudden rise to world-class competition by finishing second in her heat with a time of 2:00.53.

"For me it's all so new," she said. "I thought I had a chance of qualifying because all of our [personal bests] are fairly close and it would come down to strategy. It was a tight race."

Both Benson and Bishop have beaten the two-minute mark this season, Benson with a 1:59.94 in Portland, Oregon on June 14 and Bishop with a 1:59.52 in Lucerne, Switzerland on July 14.

Ahmed DQ'd, reinstated in 5,000

There was elation and disappointment in the Canadian camp following the men's 5,000m heats. 

Mohamed Ahmed of St Catharines, Ont., finished third in his heat in a season-best time of 13:19.58 — very close to the world and Olympic champion Mo Farah of Britain. They were so close through most of the race, in fact, that with less than a kilometre to go, Ahmed clipped the Briton, who stumbled and nearly went down.

The Chinese officials initially disqualified Ahmed, but the Canadian team protested on the grounds that the bump was unintentional and didn't affect the outcome of the race. The appeal was successful, and Ahmed will run in Saturday's final.

"There was a lot of jostling at the beginning and I tried to stay back, looked for openings, navigated through the traffic," Ahmed explained. "Luckily I got one of the five qualifying spots."

"[Farah] has a long back-kick and I have a long back-kick too, and we sort of stumbled upon each other. And there was another guy who was coming back and tried to veer to the right. So we clipped each other and, luckily, none of us fell."

Cam Levins, who has struggled since shattering the Canadian men's 10,000m record on May 29, failed to advance to the 5,000m final. With two laps to go he moved into position for the inevitable pace increase, but when it quickened he could not respond.

"I missed some training with a couple of different things and obviously wasn't fit enough today," he said of the bruised ribs he suffered in a fall at the Canadian championships and an ankle problem. "I felt the healthiest I have felt. But when you miss training it catches up with you."

Rodney out in 200, women advance

Brendon Rodney, who had run a personal-best 20.18 seconds in his 200m first-round heat, couldn't come close to that result in Wednesday's semifinals. He finished eighth in his race in 20.46, blaming fatigue from a long season. 

As expected, Justin Gatlin of the U.S. turned in the fastest qualifying time with his 19.87 clocking to win Heat 2. Usain Bolt ran a solid bend before easing up on the home straight to win the third heat in 19.95.

Both Kim Hyacinthe (23.03) and Khamica Bingham (22.90) automatically qualified for the women's 200m semifinals.

"I'm excited and I just want to go back and look at little things I can fix, rest up and go hard again tomorrow," said Bingham.

Hurdlers move on

Canada's two 110m hurdlers, John Cabral and Sekou Kaba, advanced to the semifinals automatically by finishing fourth in their respective heats.

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