Oregon Overview: Canada wins 4x100m gold
The Oregon Overview is a daily publication that focuses on Team Canada’s pursuits at the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Oregon. The overview contains previews, recaps and observations, and will be published every day between July 15 and 24 on our website athletics.ca, and via our social channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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A schedule filled with finals on the penultimate day of the World Championships led to a 23-year-old Canadian winning his first medal, the nation’s athlete of the year bowing out of competition with an injury, and the 4x100m men’s team delivering the performance of the meet. Here are the three stories that made the Saturday afternoon session the most thrilling of the championship for the red and white thus far.
CANADA WINS MEN’S 4X100M GOLD, SETS WORLD LEAD AND NATIONAL RECORD
On a night that had already seen a Canadian climb on the podium’s third rung, and another lose his near-certain medal hopes to a sudden injury, Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney and Andre De Grasse walked onto the track and into their starting spots in the 4x100m relay final. The quartet had an Olympic silver medal under their belt, but was facing all-star teams coming from Jamaica, Great Britain and the United States. All that with an anchor, Andre De Grasse, who had dropped his 200m race earlier this week due to his ongoing recovery from lingering COVID symptoms.
As usual, Brown started off the race, running a pristine bend before passing it to Jerome Blake who kept pace with the Americans. Blake delivered a flawless exchange to Rodney, who did the same to De Grasse. Canada’s anchor overtook American Marvin Bracy, cruising to the finish line at the speed that has won him multiple Olympic medals.
He crossed in first place, stopping the clock at 37.48: a world lead and national record. It was also Canada’s first world championship gold in the 4x100m since 1997, when Robert Esmie Bruny Surin, Donovan Bailey and current Athletics Canada Head Coach Glenroy Gilbert did the same in Athens in a time of 37.86 – also a world lead on that year.
“It’s special,” said Ander De Grasse after the race. “There was a lot of Canadian flags out there. It definitely feels good. We weren’t on home soil, but it definitely felt like it.”
De Grasse, the team’s fourth runner and anchor, added that having himself and Brendon Rodney fresh for the competition helped the team’s chances. Jerome Blake and Aaron Brown who both competed in the 100m and 200m, were racing in their sixth and eighth races of the weekend, respectively.
“It was pretty cool because we ran together at the Olympics last year,” said Blake. “I’m from Vancouver, just up the road. I have a lot of family and friends watching and that was special to me. Especially that my mom was just on the turn out there to see me run well.”
It was a good day for Canada’s relay teams, as the 4x400m women qualified for the final in a season’s best of 3:28.49. Kyra Constantine, running in leg three, passed two runners to put Canada in second, and they held on to the auto-qualifying third place until the end. Constantine, Micha Powell, Aiyanna Stiverne and Natassha McDonald will be back in action tomorrow night at 7:50 p.m. PST, in the last event of the World Championships: the 4x400m final.
MARCO AROP WINS 800M BRONZE AND BECOMES SECOND CANADIAN TO STAND ON PODIUM AT 2022 WORLDS
With each round of the men’s 800m, the writing on the wall grew clearer: Marco Arop is in medal shape. The 23-year-old won his preliminary heat in 1:44.56, finished with the second fastest time in the semi-final round, and tonight set the pace in the last lap and dared the best half-milers in the world to keep up.
He was leading the race with 100m to go, eventually ceding gold and silver to Emmanuel Korir of Kenya and Djamel Sedjati of Algeria. Arop held on for third, finishing in 1:44.28 and becoming Canada’s second medalist of these championships and the country’s first 800m men’s medalist since Gary Reed in 2007.
This will hold a special place in my heart,” who was seventh in his only other world championship final in 2019 Doha as a 21-year-old.
“I have a few friends, coaches staff that have helped me along the way. I’m just ready to celebrate with everybody.”
Arop’s bronze puts an end to a dramatic set of 800m rounds for Canada, which earlier saw Canadian record holder Brandon McBride falling to the ground and breaking his foot 200m into the race while jostling for position in the preliminary round. In the final, disaster almost struck for Arop when he stumbled near the same place as did McBride, but managed to stay on his feet. He took the lead shortly after the mishap and kept it until the final 20 metres.
“The goal was just to relax the first 200, and if I ended up in the front, just control the race and make a move early and I did just that,” he said. “I saw (Slimane) Moula (the only man to beat Arop in the semi-final) in the front and I didn’t want it to play in his hands.”
The 23-year-old ran comfortably in the front for the next lap and a half, but tied up near the end, leaving an opening for the eventual gold and silver medalists. Still, he said, the race was mission accomplished.
“I’m just happy that I came out with a medal.– I only let two guys get me, but it all went according to plan.”
ELATION AND DESPAIR IN THE MEN’S DECATHLON
Day one of two of men’s decathlon competition brought no shortage of drama and excitement to Hayward Field.
Damian Warner and Pierce Lepage, the two Canadians on the start list, kicked off the day like caged horses. Warner won the 100m in 10.27, while Lepage was second in 10.39, just 0.09 off his personal best. The long jump was more of the same, with Warner winning the event with a jump of 7.87m and putting 17 cm over his closest competitor. Lepage fell to seventh in the event, but still ranked second behind Warner in overall points as the men entered the shot put ring for their third event, in which they were 13th and eighth, respectively.
After a short break, Warner and Lepage were back for the evening session to take part in events four and five. First was the high jump. Warner fell into a near-metronomic groove as he cleared bars past two metres, before finding his match in a 2.08m bar. He tied his season’s best of 2.05m. Lepage, meanwhile, also reached a season’s best of 1.99m.
The next event, the 400m, damped the nation’s spirits in a matter of seconds. In a moment rivalled only by McBride’s tumble in the 800m prelims in its tragedy, Damian Warner slowed suddenly on the backstretch and grimaced as he reached for his hamstring. He came to a stop midway through the race, unable to finish.
“It’s pretty disappointing. This competition has been the screensaver on my computer the last couple of years,” Warner told CBC reporter Devin Heroux shortly after the 400m. “I had a chance to compete in front of my son and my girlfriend. It’s tough.”
As Warner was coming to terms with his fate, Lepage was recovering from a second-place finish in the 400m in a personal best time of 46.84. It helped the 26-year-old to climb to second in the overall competition at the end of Day 1 of 2.
“For me, finishing the 400m with a PB is a good confidence booster for tomorrow,” said Lepage. “But my coach always says the decathlon starts on the second day. So I’m ready to show that I’m a decathlete.”
Lepage was just learning that he would likely be the only Canadian lining up for decathlon events tomorrow when he was asked about Warner’s injury.
“I know in 2018 he no heighted in the pole vault and the next year followed that up with the national record,” he said. “If anyone can come back and show he’s ready, it’s Damian.”
THREE STORYLINES TO FOLLOW ON JULY 24 (TIMES PST)
Pierce Lepage resumes the men’s decathlon. He ranks second overall after the conclusion of five of ten events.
Michelle Harrison will race in the semi-finals of the 100m hurdles at 5:10 p.m., after finishing second in her qualifying heat. The 30-year-old hurdler from Saskatchewan will aim to qualify for her first world final.
Olympic bronze medalist in the 50k race walk Evan Dunfee to race short distance – for him: the 35k race walk world final at 6:15 a.m. Dunfee is a month removed from winning the national 20k race walk championship.
Moh Ahmed races the 5,000m final – an event in which he is the defending Olympic silver medalist. The race will be his seventh-ever world final.
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