More silver and bronze for Ottawa athletes at track nationals

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Caroline Poirier leaps during the pole vault at the 2018 Canadian Track and Field Championships. (Photo: Brendan Shykora)

By Brendan Shykora

A host of Ottawa Lions competed in finals events with six making the podium on the penultimate day of the 2018 Canadian Track and Field Championships Saturday.

Caroline Poirier of the Lions reached silver-medal heights in the under-20 women’s pole vault final as she beat her own personal best with a 3.70 metre launch.

Poirier, 17, was the 4th ranked U20 pole vaulter coming into the 2018 Canadian Track and Field Championships – but rather than think about the rest of the field, she came in focusing on setting a new benchmark for herself.

“To be honest I didn’t really look at the rankings standings, I just came in knowing that that’s the height I wanted to clear and that’s the height I did,” she said.

The former gymnast who switched to pole vaulting just two years ago allowed herself a smile and a slight fist pump after the wobbling bar on her 3.70 m jump stayed horizontal.

“I was really happy when I got off that mat,” she said.

In the evening events, Farah Jacques made her mark on the women’s 100 m hurdles as a newcomer.

“I’ve got a bronze medal, and I’m really happy because it’s my first year doing hurdles,” said the athlete who trains in Ottawa under national team coach Glenroy Gilbert and hurdles coach Hugh Conlin. “I’m really excited for the future.”

Also a sprinter, the Perfmax Racing athlete went to the 2016 Olympic Games for Team Canada’s 7th-placing 100 m relay. Now she’s ready to see how far she can take this new direction in her track career. “I think I still have things to improve on, and it’s only going to get better from here, I believe,” Jacques said.

Ottawa Lions’ Devyani Biswal also ran the 100 m hurdles, finishing just behind Jacques in 4th position and improving on last year’s 7th place result.

“Fourth in front of my hometown is not so bad,” Biswal said following the race. I feel I’m in the best shape of my life, so I’m really happy.”

Meanwhile Devyani’s twin sister, Divya Biswal, earned a silver in the triple jump (and placed 3rd overall behind a Mexican visitor) with a 12.51 m measure. Adding in her 4th place finish in long jump from Friday, her standings at the 2018 championships mirror her results from last year.

Divya Biswal had three deep jumps towards the end that were called foul – the dreaded red-flag ruling when a jumper’s toe touches the foul line.

“Overall I’m pleased with it because the jumps where I fouled were still pretty good,” she said.

In the men’s U20 hurdles, Philip Frank placed 3rd with a time of 14.64 seconds, edging out his own season’s best of 14.89.

Two U20 Lions showed great endurance in the men’s 3000 m steeplechase. Jonathan Rioux and Andre Alie-Lamarche crossed the finish line side by side, Rioux winning silver with a time of 9:31.05, Alie-Lamarche bronze a tenth of a second later.

The pair have a way of mirroring each other; they both set new season’s best times in the race, and Alie-Lamarche’s previous best of 9:54.78 was less than tenth of a second faster than Rioux’s previous seasonal benchmark.

“We train together and go at the same speed,” Rioux said. “Usually he’s the faster one.”

Alicia Brown placed 4th in women’s 400 m with a time of 53.10.

“For me the goal was to be as aggressive as I could be and just go out there and compete, whatever that looks like,” the University of Toronto athlete said. Her performance this year was “a step up” from last year’s 6th place showing, when she had been dealing with injuries on the heels of her Olympic debut in Rio.

Lions sprinter Segun Makinde placed 6th in men’s 200 m finals with a time of 21.15, in a final that did not feature 3-time Olympic medalist Andre De Grasse, who re-injured his hamstring in the final 50 metres of the 200 m semi-final.

Sixteen-year-old Joe Fast made the U20 men’s 1500 m finals, finishing 12th with time of 4:12:48.

“My goal going in was just to make the final,” Fast said. “Next year getting a medal would be great.”

Though Fast appeared to have wanted better of himself in the race (his season’s best time was 3:56:64), his disappointment didn’t get in the way of his character: on a hot afternoon, the Lions runner volunteered to help run the high jump events.

Sunday, July 8 marks the end of the 2018 Championships held at the Terry Fox Athletic Facility. The final event (the senior men’s 4×400 m relay) begins at 2:10 p.m.

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