Elite Athletes Put on Great Show in Victoria Track Classic

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Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

July 8, 2014, Victoria, BC (ISN) – On an absolutely perfect evening in Victoria, many of Canada’s and the World’s elite track and field athletes gathered at Centennial Stadium at the University of Victoria for the 26th Annual Victoria International Track Classic.

Runners jostle for position during the early stages of the Women’s 1500m race at the Victoria Track Classic on Tuesday night (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

This year’s event celebrated 20 years since the Commonwealth Games took place in Victoria in 1994 and featured a number of high profile races, most notably the Women’s 800 metres – which capped off the evening and featured a tribute to Diane Cummins, one of Canada’s most decorated track and field athletes.

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Canadian track superstar Diane Cummins was honoured (left) prior to her race Tuesday and then went out and sprinted to a second place finish in the Women’s 800 meters (right)(Photos: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Cummins would go out with a bang, finishing second in the race and perhaps passing the torch on to the winner of the race, national champion Melissa Bishop, who with a time of 1:59.70 has now won this same race three years in a row.

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Melissa Bishop is all smiles as she nears the finish of the Women’s 800 meters, winning the race for the third year in a row (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the Men’s 800 meters, as predicted, the race came down to a homestretch battle between local favourite, UVic’s Thomas Riva and Anthony Romaniw from Ontario. Romaniw looked to have the race sealed up, but a final kick by Riva over the last 30 meters of the race, gave Riva the photo finish victory in a time of 1:47.02. Romaniw, who jostled with Riva near the finish line, was ultimately disqualified for the bump, giving Bermuda’s Shaquille Dill the silver.

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Anthony Romaniw looked to have the Men’s 800 metres all sewn up, but a last second kick from Thomas Riva (background) gave Riva the win at the wire (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In another highlight race of the evening, the Women’s 100 meter hurdles, it came down to a tough battle between Nigerian Nicole Denby, Kierre Beckles of Barbados and Canada’s Nikkita Holder, with Denby grabbing the gold in a time of 13.40. Beckles was second, with Holder third.

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Kierre Beckles (left), Nikkita Holder (centre) and Nicole Denby (right) fly over the hurdles in the Women’s 100 metre hurdles race.  Denby (right) would hold her lead and emerge with the win (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Also in another speed race, the USA’s Joseph Morris would nose out Canada’s Gavin Smellie in the Men’s 100 meter run, beating Smellie by .01 of a second with a time of 10.26. Dontae Richards-Kwok of Canada would finish third.

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The Men’s 100 meter run would be won by the USA’s Joseph Morris (blue shirt #4) in a time of 10.26 seconds (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the Men’s 400 meters, Akheem Gauntlett from Jamaica would take gold in 45.88 seconds, beating out Panama’s Joel Lynch (46.51) and Canada’s Michael Robertson (46.51). The USA’s Brianna Nelson would cruise to gold in the Women’s 400 meters with a time of 51.74, easily beating Canada’s Audrey Jean-Baptiste who finished second at 53.39.

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Jamaica’s Akheem Gauntlett (left) and USA’s Brianna Nelson (right) would win the Men’s and Women’s 400 meters races respectively (Photos: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the Women’s 1500 meters, Canadian favourite Kate Van Buskirk would lead mid-way through the race but then could not finish, giving the win to American Kerri Gallagher in a time of 4:09.99. Shelby Houlihan and Lauren Paquette finished second and third respectively, making it a clean sweep of the podium for the USA. In the Men’s race, Charles Philiobert-Thiboutot would pull away late to defeat Canadian teammate Luc Bruchert with a time of 3:40.13. Dan Gorman of Canada would finish third.

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In the 1500 Meter races, the USA’s Kerri Gallagher (left) and Canada’s Charles Philiobert-Thiboutot would emerge with the wins (Photos: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

In the 1500 meters National Development runs, Canada’s Sarah Ingliss would take the women’s race in a time of 4:20.11 while Christian Gravel would lead the way on the men’s side with a time of 3:49.37.

In a highlight field event of the night, the USA’s Jordan Clarke would win the Men’s Shot Put with a throw of 20.50 metres. Canadian Tim Nedow would grab second (20.09m) while Taiwan’s Ming-Huang Chang took third. 2012 Canadian Olympian Justin Rodhe had an off night, finishing in sixth.

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The USA’s Jordan Clarke shows off his winning form in the Men’s shot put (Photos: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

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Ming-Huang Chang (left) would finish third in shot put, while Canada’s Justin Rodhe would place sixth (Photos: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Finally, in the Woman’s Long Jump event, just two competitors would battle it out, with Bermuda’s Arantxa King out jumping the USA’s Anita Rogers 5.92 meters to 5.87 meters.

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Bermuda’s Arantxa King (left) would out jump the USA’s Anita Rogersin the Women’s Long Jump competition (Photos: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)