LANGLEY, British Columbia – Trinity Western University alumnus Fiona Benson (Dawson Creek, B.C.) is set to take yet another step forward in what has been an incredible run of success this summer, as the 800m runner is just a few days away from becoming the first Spartan athlete or former Spartan athlete to compete at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships.
August 25th – Heats – 7:25 p.m. (PT)
August 27th – Semifinal – 5:05 a.m. (PT)
August 29th – Final – 4:15 a.m. (PT)
Benson comes into the World Championships in Beijing as the reigning Canadian champion in the 800m, after taking top spot in Edmonton earlier this summer. Her season’s and personal best time of 1:59.94, which she clocked at the Portland Track Festival in mid-June, has her ranked No. 2 in the country and 23rd in the world. Melissa Bishop, who won gold at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, is the only Canadian currently ranked higher than the former Spartan.
“In my opinion going in (to the World Championships), unless something happens, she’s a finalist for sure,” said TWU endurance coach Mark Bomba. “And, to be honest, I think she can be a dark horse for the top five.
“From a racing perspective, quite simply, she’s composed. She races like a pro and the more pressure there is, the better she will perform.”
Since graduating from TWU earlier this year, which saw her cap her university career with gold medal in the 1500m and a silver medal in 3000m at the CIS championships, Benson has taken her racing to the next level. Her performance at the Portland Track Festival put her in an elite club as she became just the fifth woman in Canadian history to break the 2:00 barrier.
Since then, she has continued her barnstorming effort and, most recently, moved to No. 1 in the world in the mile with a time of 4:25.79 at 2015 FloTrack Throwdown in Portland.
It’s been quite a year for Benson, who, prior to this year, had personal best times of 2:08.54 in the 800m and 4:43 in the mile.
“To the average outsider, what Fiona’s done this year might come as a bit of a shock,” Bomba said. “But for those of us in the training group, it’s not a big surprise. She’s long been a star in the making, but now the world is seeing what she can do.”
This will be Benson’s second trip to China to this year to compete in an IAAF championship, having represented Canada at the 2015 World Cross Country Championships in late March, where she finished 68th overall.
Benson qualified for the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, but was not able to race because she failed to declare her intentions to compete in the event prior to the deadline.