VIkes Nation

Jul. 8: Victoria International Track Classic (Centennial Stadium)
by Ali Lee, Vikes Communications

It’s not every day that a University of Victoria Vikes student-athlete will put on a Canadian bib but tomorrow night the island crowd will get a treat at the annual Victoria International Track Classic. The event celebrates it’s 26th year at UVic’s Centennial Stadium, which concurrently celebrates it’s 20th anniversary since the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games and several Vikes will be suiting up for Canada.
Vikes 800-metre specialist Rachel Francois, of St. Albert, Alberta, has the extra special treat of racing in her second “home town” event this week after recently finishing third in the Edmonton International Track Classic.
“I love racing at home and I’m pretty lucky that I get to race in front of a home crowd twice this week,” said Francois, who has called Victoria home for three seasons now. “When friends and family come out to watch I really feel their presence during races. It just lifts you and helps to get through those painful parts of the race.”
Francois is no stranger to racing in front of crowds and meeting fans’ expectations.
“I feel the pressure to perform, but that’s really all from myself. I know what I’m capable of, but I’m also not afraid of failing, so for races like in the National Track League series, which is set up for people to run fast, you might as well go for it and see how fast you can run every time. Each race is different so it’s all about trusting my training and knowing that I’m fit takes the bad and nervous pressure off. Whatever is going to happen, will happen. “
Francois is hoping for a personal best in the Victoria event tomorrow, Jul. 8, but knows the competition is steep. The 800-m event is one of the toughest events in Canada with Melissa Bishop, of the USA, looking to defender her title, and Canadian veteran Diane Cummins also in the running.
Francois will also be supporting her Vikes teammates throughout the night as Shauna McInnisKendra Pomfret and Grace AnnearMadeline MacDonald and Brittany King will compete in the 1500-m National Development event, while Jenica Moore and Andrea Robinson will race in the 800-m development event.
For the men, expectations will lie in the speed of Vikes Tyler Smith and Thomas Riva, in the 800-m, while John Pratt and Brendon Restall will be contenders in the 400-m event. Karl Robertson is the lone Vike in the 1500-m while Trevor Shiavone and former Vike Cliff Childs will compete in the 1500-m national development race.
There will be no shortage of action for this track and field event that begins at 4:00 p.m. The event will also be streamed live, while tickets can be purchased at the gate or online.

“After tomorrow, I”ll be heading to the last stop in the Canadian series,” said Francois, whose busy competition never seems to end. “After that I’m going overseas to Europe for a few races before returning to represent Canada at the North American, Central American and Caribbean Championships in Kamloops. My goals this season are to run as fast as I can to set myself up well for next year where I am looking to qualify for World Champs, World University Games and Pan American games.”