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It’s September 30th and that means that the Athletics Canada carding nominations to Sport Canada will be made this week. In the past with age-graded standards, that were typically harder than the current standards, it was more or less assumed that if you achieved standard you would get carding. This year however AC has moved away from age-graded standards to 1 standard that is much softer in many cases. Achieving this standard gets you into the general carding pool, from which you are eligible to be nominated to Sport Canada for carding. However with the standards being softer there are many more athletes in the general carding pool than there are available cards. Essentially what this means is that come the announcement there are going to be plenty of people confused and a few possibly upset over the lists. There needs to be a crucial understanding this year that being in the general carding pool does not guarantee carding.
From the pool of athletes cards will be allocated in a step-by-step process that combines both objective and subjective measures. The objective measures include medal, top 8 and top 16 performances at the last World Championships while subjective measures include determining an athletes future Olympic medal potential. These subjective measures are made using a number of tools which are listed in the carding document. It must be stressed that these subjective determinations are not simply whether the Head Coach likes or dislikes a certain athlete. Decisions are made with a plethora of statistical and past performance history of each athlete and final decisions are made by the voting members of the national team committee (NTC). I personally have complete confidence in the NTC to make the appropriate decisions based on all the information they have at their disposal.
But because I don’t sit on the NTC all I can do is look at the general carding pool objectively through the step-by-step process outlined in the carding document. In doing so there are some important points that are worth highlighting quickly before you take a look for yourself and form your own opinions. This year the general carding pool consists of 96 athletes by my count. With the same number of cards as last year and a similar allotment of senior, dev, NCAA and injury cards AC would be able to nominate 74 athletes to Sport Canada for carding. Meaning that around 20 athletes in the general carding pool are not going to be carded.
Below I have provided the link to a googledoc I created with all the athletes in the general carding pool and what step they fall under based on the objective criteria. It is far from perfect as there is some critical information missing that we are not privy to. It may also be rather confusing as I threw it together last minute and there may be several mistakes, especially among who is eligible for an NCAA card. But I think for Canadian athletes it may serve as a good tool to see where people stand… My goal for this is to inform everyone a little bit before the Nominations are released so that you can form your own opinions on whether athlete X did or didn’t deserve carding. If there are any glaring mistakes I apologize and welcome any corrections or feedback you may have.
As many people reading this blog will know, the walk has been taken out of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. What no one seems to know though is exactly why this decision was made. While the reasons that are routinely given seem objective enough, I personally and wholeheartedly believe that this decision is one of ignorance and is simply the reflection of some higher-ups distain towards the event, something I’d be inclined to go as far as calling prejudice and discrimination in part because we look different. Admittedly I have no proof of this so it simply stands as my opinion. The purpose of this post is to look at the reasons given for why the walk has been excluded and by showing that these reasons are complete and utter BS, show why I have come to form such an opinion.
The primary reason that is given is that there is a lack of competition and depth in the walk among Commonwealth nations. Unfortunately no one has been able to provide any proof to this being the case. Another reason often given for why the walk was excluded is the organizational difficulties in planning a 2km road circuit. Funny that planning a marathon route through the city didn’t seem to be a challenge. Nor was it a problem for creating 2 cycling courses.
This point is also made mute by the suggestion that the race be a 10,000m Track walk, a suggestion which was backed by the IAAF, yet Glasgow still took it upon themselves to make sure the walk was excluded. A decision that baffles those of sound mind.
The Organizing Committee points out several times in the article above that the Marathon will be one of 3 free events that will allow everyone to experience the games without needing a ticket. We’ve seen recently with the London Olympics that these types of events draw huge amounts of support and really allow a city to showcase some of its greatest sites to the world. In London I was lucky enough to experience a few of these free events. All of them, even the women’s marathon in the teeming rain, were lined with people. The men’s triathlon through Hyde Park was packed 20-30 people deep as they cheered on the Brownlee brothers (the women’s triathlon had a reported 250,000 spectators, and I imagine with the draw of the Brownlee’s that the men’s would have surpassed this).
The race walk’s were no different, with tens of thousands of people lining the 2km circuit around Buckingham Palace (myself included). And at the Berlin World Championships in 2009 the race walk course went through the Brandenburg Gates, and again drew thousands of people out (as well as sparking my love for that city). I have no doubt in my mind that Glasgow would have been no different. And in a city like Glasgow I’m sure there would be no shortage of magnificent palaces, cathedrals or parliament buildings for us to be herded around while people gawk at us in all our majestic and peculiar beauty.
I’ve gotten sufficiently sidetracked. At the end of the day the fact that we could put on a good show and that it would be enjoyable and beneficial for everyone is my subjective opinion. I would be quite the hypocrite if I accused the Organizing Committee of making a subjective decision to exclude the walk and then presented a purely subjective opinion of why it should be there. So lets focus back on that first reason, that the walk isn’t competitive enough within the Commonwealth. There are many ways in which we can judge “competitiveness”.
First, lets look historically. Over the past 4 Commonwealth Games the numbers have been admittedly low, but comparable to the other “technical” disciplines which remain in the Games.
But just having people capable of showing up to the race isn’t a suitable measure of competitiveness in my opinion. So I’ve taken a little more in-depth look at this and compiled a list of the performances among Commonwealth countries this year (and last year in the long distance/ multi-events) that correspond to top 3, 8, 12 and 16 (only counting 3 per country). To make the comparison easier I have provided the equivalent IAAF points score for those performances as well (the effectiveness of using IAAF points to compare events is a matter for a completely different post, but it will suffice for now as the best option). The trend that is all too clear is that at the top end the walks are just as competitive as any other event (save for the events that are Kenyan dominated, i.e. the 10,000m, 3000m Steeple Chase and Marathon where at least the top 3 are all Kenyan), and in terms of depth both men and women hold their own among the other technical events. So without further ado:
What I don’t want to do is go into a full analysis of all of this. The last thing I want is to say, “how can you exclude the walk yet let _________ still be in there”. It is simply there for you to look at and form your own opinions. What is unquestionably clear though is that there is no credibility to the Organizing Committee saying we were excluded due to a lack of competitiveness.
Therefore I am left with no other alternative but to form the opinion I expressed at the beginning of this post. That our exclusion is the result of some higher-ups personal quarrels with the event, something akin to discrimination. That said I am completely open to hearing other reasons and having my opinion swayed, so if you’ve got thoughts let me know. And if you feel like expressing your own distain towards The Commonwealth Games Federation, tweet your opinion to them @thecgf.
The good news is that this is only a temporary exclusion and the walk will be back on the docket for 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia. It will be up to us the athletes to prove that we belong there and I have no doubt that we can raise the level of competition even higher than it already is, leaving not even the staunchest critic with an excuse to try and exile us.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to follow me on twitter @evandunfee
As we enter the last weekend of the Commonwealth Games qualifying window there are a number of interesting story lines to follow, not least of which is simply figuring out who gets picked first. While Athletics Canada has done a good job telling us who has made standard, I got bored and put together a ranking of qualified athletes based on the step-by-step selection process outline in the selection criteria document (here). Athletes are ranked in their appropriate steps and within each step based on the percentage of their applicable age-graded B standard.
A number of things become immediately clear. The number of qualified athletes/ relay teams sits at 45 right now. Add at least 5 more non-qualified individuals to fill relay spots and you have at least 50 athletes qualified heading into the final weekend. It will be interesting to see whether Athletics was granted a larger quota than the estimated 40 or whether they can fund additional athletes so that no qualified athlete gets left off the team.
The one problem I uncovered from doing this is a problem that has plagued Athletics Canada for as many years as I’ve been making national teams…Rankings and statistics. Section 2.2 of the National Team Selection Rule Book states that performances “must be recognized on the official AC performance ranking lists. As it stands now, Christabel, Angela and Jessica Zelinka should not be named to the team as their results don’t appear in the rankings. Yet Christabel’s and Angela’s results appear on the IAAF top lists and all 3 show up in AC’s Comm Games tracking list. This is something that needs to be sorted out because frankly if I can find all the results, then the person getting paid to do that job should be able to put them on the rankings… and if they can’t, then I’d be more than happy to take the job.
Finally I will say that looking at this list it is clear that Canadian athletics is moving in the right direction. Not only are we beginning to build depth within our strong events but also we are slowly starting to broaden the number of events in which we are competitive. The future surely looks bright.
Main meets this weekend
Expect the top 12 for men’s and women’s multi events to be completely rearranged after this. Canadian interest in this event is Brianne Theisen-Eaton, the defending champion and 2013 World Championship silver medalist.
Canadian bronze medalist in the decathlon from last year, Damian Warner was expected to compete but his name no longer appears on the start list.
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With a number of events on tap expect the top lists to be moved around a bit. This means that a few Canadian athletes currently on the bubble could fall out of the top 12. Brandon McBride is unlikely to hold on to his #12 spot which would see him drop down to step 7 as an athlete w/ B standard who hasn’t competed at a World Champs or Olympics before. The same fate could see Chanice Taylor drop out of the top 12 in the 400mH.
If the Germans or Brazilians jump big in the men’s Pole Vault, Shawn Barber could see his top 12 just slip away which would move him down to step 8 as an athlete w/ B standard.
With the preliminary entry lists that were available the only Canadian set to compete is Cameron Levins in a strong men’s 5000m. If it’s a fast race watch out for Cam to go after the Canadian record in the event (13:13.96) and pick up a Comm games A standard along the way (13:15.00)
Other Canadians to watch out for this weekend:
A number of Canadian athletes are on the verge of making Commonwealth standards. I imagine they will be racing at various meets around the continent this weekend. In particular our 400mH girls Sarah Wells and Noelle Montcalm will look to join Chanice Chase with standards as well as 400m flat runners Carline Muir and Jenna Martin. While these women may feature on the 4x400m relay in Glasgow, you can be sure they’ll want to be there running their individual specialties as well. Phylicia George also looks to be making a run at standard in the women’s 100mH with a time of 13.14 yesterday, just .04 off of B standard.
In the middle distances expect some good races from any number of our elite 800m women as well as Nicole Sifuentes going after standard in the 1500m. Additionally with fast races Jessica Furlan and Chantelle Groenewoud are both capable of knocking out a B standard and Canadian record in the women’s steeple.
On the men’s side Daundre Barnaby is closing in on a B standard in the 400m. Barnaby will likely be a key component to the men’s 4x400m relay in Glasgow as well. In the men’s 1500m Nate Brannen and Charles Philbert-Thiboutot are both on the cusp of B standard, each about 1.5s off the 3:37 standard.
Also on this weekend are the NCAA preliminary meets that act as the opening rounds for the NCAA Champs in Eugene in 2 weeks time. I’ve tried my best to go through the start lists and highlight the Canadians in action, but I definitely missed some (or many).
NCAA Div 1 West Preliminary
Loudia Laarman will be looking for a fast 100m to go after Comm standard and try to make NCAA Champs. In the 400m Christian Brennan has run 52.81 this season and the Comm B standard sits at 52.35, but I suspect this Oregon freshman who is eligible for the World Juniors later this summer in her new backyard will be focusing on that meet this summer. Audrey Jean-Baptiste and Ally Courtnall also feature in the women’s 400m.
The 2 lap race features Brennan’s Oregon teammate Annie LeBlanc who will look to improve on her Canadian ranking in the 800m this season and also qualify for the NCAA championship meet. Alycia Butterworth goes into the 3000m SC ranked in the top 8 so expect her to secure a spot for NCAA champs.
Holly Parent will look to end her career at Washington State in style by qualifying for NCAA champs. She’ll be up against fellow British Colombian Alyx Treasure who enters the competition ranked a joint 1st with her 1.85m jump this season. Multi-eventer Nicole Oudenaarden competes in the LJ.
Julie Labonte headlines a quartet of Canadians throwing discus on the weekend where she’ll be joined by fellow Canadians Rayann Chin, Diana Levy and Alex Porlier-Langlois. These 4 currently make up the cream of the crop in Canadian women’s discus as the top 4 throwers this year.
Labonte and Porlier-Langlois will also feature in the women’s shot put. Labonte already has a Commonwealth B standard in this event with her 17.45m throw earlier this year. She’ll be looking to improve on that as well as trying to win the meet.
Levy will also be chucking the hammer along side Lauren Stuart and Jillian Weir. Stuart has shown remarkable consistency so far this year with 4 throws between 63.57m and 64.55. Weir on the other hand launched a seasons best 2 weeks ago by over 6m and improved her PB by nearly 3m to take a surprise victory at the Pac-12 champs.
Not to be outdone by a number of throwers featuring in multiple events. Oudenaarden will follow up her LJ by competing in the javelin, showing the many talents of this promising multi-eventer. Joining Nicky is Madison Johnston who looks to get back to the NCAA Champs to improve upon her 9th place finish last year.
In the men’s 100m Aaron Brown will have his hands full as he faces off against Trayvon Bromell who earlier this year equaled the world junior record in the 100m with a 10.01 clocking and 2 weeks ago ran a wind aided 9.77. Aaron will also be one of the favorites in the 200m. The men’s 400m will feature Ben Ayesu-Attah and in the 800m Canada’s lone competitor is the freshmen from Tulsa Elijah Silva.
The 5000m features Olympian Mo Ahmed who will look to qualify through to the Champs with as little energy expended as possible as he is also slated to be toeing the line in the 10,000m.
In the men’s hammer throw freshman Jordan Young features in the top flight, coming in ranked 5th. Tyler Renton and Evan Karakolis enter the men’s javelin hoping for solid throws that could send both of them to the NCAA champs.
NCAA Div 1 East Preliminary
In the women’s 1500m Elizabeth Whalen looks to have a shot at advancing to the NCAA Championship meet if she can get near her PB of 4:18 set at the Stanford invite earlier this year while Cleo Boyd will look to improve upon her 16:30 PB in the women’s 5000m. Running along side her will be Maddie Davidson who boasts a 16:21 PB. Kirsten Kasper looks to be Canada’s sole runner in a largely contested 10,000m.
Nicole Setterington looks to gain some valuable experience as the freshman from Florida state looks to improve upon her personal best in the 100mH. She’ll be joined by Chanice Chase. Chase will also feature in the 400mH and enters the competition with a Comm Games B standard, she will line up 1 lane outside her older sister Tynelle Taylor-Chase.
The women’s high jump will see Emma Siuciak jumping off fresher legs than this multi-eventer is used to so it would be no surprise to see her soar higher than her SB of 1.81m set 2 weeks ago. In the pole vault the rapidly improving Alysha Newman is one to watch. With every outdoor meet this year Newman has steadily improved going from 4.00 to 4.25 to 4.28 to a 1cm PB of 4.41m set 2 weeks ago. At this rate the Commonwealth B standard of 4.50m could be within her grasp. Alysha is joined in the pole vault by Ariane Beaumont-Courteau.
Chelsea Whalen is set to throw in both the women’s shot put and javelin. She is top 12 ranked in both events. In the Javelin she will be joined by Tiffani Hernandez, Milica Kulidzan, and Jamie Springer.
Akeem Haynes will be looking to run well under the Comm games B standard of 10.21 to put him in the top 3 in Canada and hopefully move him on to the NCAA Champs. Brendon Rodney already has a Commonwealth A standard in the 200m with his 20.41 earlier this year, but with 4 athletes holding A standards he’ll want to improve upon that to ensure he is one of the top 3 ranked Canadians.
In the 800m Brandon McBride finds himself needing to improve his PB by .05 to reach the Comm Games A standard. McBride is ranked 1st heading into the competition. He will be joined by compatriot and friend Keffri Neal.
The 1500m will feature J.P Malette and Rob Denault both looking to qualify for the NCAA Champs. Mattias Wolter heads the 3000m SC ranked number 1 and he will be running along side fellow Canadian and senior Jacob Smith.
Brandon Lord will be looking to sneak into the top 5 in his heat to punch his ticket to the NCAA champs in the men’s 5,000m. While he is also slated to run in the 10,000m where he’ll be joined by Evan Esselink.
Calvin Arsenault is the sole Canadian in the 110mH and will also run the 400mH where he’ll be joined by Canadian junior standout Jordan Sherwood.
Senior Aubrey Smith will look hold or better his 7th place ranking to move him towards the NCAA champs while freshmen Jared Kerr will look to gain some valuable experience and possibly target the world junior standard of 7.55m. While in the pole vault Shawn Barber enters the event ranked 2nd and will look to get near his Canadian Record of 5.75m set indoors earlier this year and surpass the Commonwealth A standard of 5.70m in the process.
Andrew Wells is the lone Canadian male in the Discus. Finally Raymond Dykstra enters the Javelin ranked 2nd overall.
Alright well this puts an end to my blogging virginity. Thanks to anyone who is reading this.
(I apologize for the length of this one, got a little carried away- they will not all be this long, promise)
The 2011 season has been over for a few weeks now and I have had plenty of time to look back and reflect on the season that was. More than anything, this season has provided me with a wealth of experience racing and training in many different environments.
2011 started painfully slowly. Training in the winter months with a 30lb weight vest so that I could train with some company, in the form of our lovely lady training partners, while Iñaki was in Australia. This correlated to nothing more than sore clavicles and knowing how decathletes must feel running the 1500. The early season woes continued into February when I dropped out of my first race of the season in Victoria.
A minor boost came at the end of March at the UBC open when I was able to take a few seconds off of my 5k personal best getting down to 19:41 in what I can only describe as a horribly paced race. This PB was followed by another disappointment in May where I only made it to 14k my first 20k race, but I was able to cough that up to university exam stress.
The first trip of the season came at the end of May when the UBC track team headed off the the NAIA championships in Marion, Indiana. In stark contrast to last year where temperatures were in the upper 30’s everyday, this year we were forced to battle constant tornado warnings with cooler temperatures and nightly thundershowers. These were ideal temperatures for the walk as they insist on having it at 2pm. The cool conditions were enough to help me break the NAIA record, clocking 20:02 for 5k, not particularly fast but I did what I needed to do.
A huge boost came in early June before leaving for nationals. I was able to post a 19:23 5k in Coquitlam, which gave me confidence heading to Calgary. I headed out to nationals a week early to adjust to the mild altitude of 1000m. Unfortunately I got quite sick the first day I was there and spent most of the next week in bed, not getting in a single decent workout. Going into the race I was wasn’t particularly confident but I kept telling myself I was in shape. As soon as the gun went things just seemed to click and I was able to take the first 10k in a pretty easy 43min and then pushed it from there catching and passing Iñaki to take the lead at 11k and held on from there for a 2nd consecutive National Sr. title in a PB of 1:25:15.
The season culminated in August when I set off for 6 weeks to compete in China, England and Germany.
After 2 weeks training in a heat trailer in Victoria it was off to Shenzhen, China for the World University Games (FISU). It is pretty safe to say that this was the most fun I’ve had on a team as the whole experience was just amazing, including the drunk chemistry teacher on the plane who just wouldn’t leave me alone. The training leading up to the race hadn’t been the best so in the race I tried to start off conservatively. I thought I had done this but I wasn’t able to pick it up in the second half and basically strolled to an uninspired 14th place finish in a time of 1:29:13 losing a sprint to another athlete, which I will never let happen again. That being said I did have enough to hold off the late charges of the Irish athlete Brendan Boyce.
The aforementioned Irish athlete was one of 3 very gracious hosts along with Alex Wright and Lauren Whelan for our month stay in Leeds. This was a month full of good training, hearty food and a lot of top gear. The highlights include a mile race in Keighley where Iñaki, myself and Brendan all went under the British all comers record of 5:58, Iñaki taking the record with his 5:48. It should be noted that Alex who didn’t race also broke that previous record a couple weeks later to become the British record holder. While in England I was also able to nab the UK 10k championship on a windy day in Victoria Park, missing Brendan’s course record by 20 seconds. On top of our hosts I’d also like to thank Andi Drake, Ian Richards and Brian Hanley for all their help in England.
The season then approached an end in Germany where it can be said the four guys from the house in Leeds were in peak form. After a slow first 2k I found the groove being able to put the next 13k in under pace. I slowed slightly in the last 5k but was able to make up some ground in the last kilometre by dropping a 4:06. My final time was 1:23:45. Iñaki who had a great race achieved Olympic ‘A’ standard with a 1:22:04 and Alex, who had been battling injuries all year, was able to clock a seasons best in 1:26:45. The highlight of the meet was definitely Brendan’s Olympic ‘A’ standard in the 50k and achieving his national funding standard by 2 seconds thanks to a last kilometre ‘sprint’, finishing in 3:57:58. His outburst of elation after 4 hours of walking was truly a reminder to why we do what we do. *Naumburg results with splits click here*
After a celebratory night out in Naumburg, Iñaki and I got a much deserved vacation in Berlin which was a great way to end a successful season.
2012 training has now begun, the road to London has reached its final turn, its now or never. Stay tuned.