Beijing, China – Melissa Bishop of Eganville, Ont., and Damian Warner of London, Ont., each won silver medals and the men’s 4×100-metres relay team won bronze on day eight of the 2015 IAAF World Championships. Bishop won silver in the women’s 800-metres while Warner earned silver with a Canadian record in the ten-event decathlon. In a bit of a role reversal from the Pan Am Games, Canada finished off the podium in fourth place but replays showed the United States’ last exchange was well out of the zone, they were disqualified and Canada upgraded to bronze.
The three medals on “Super Saturday” brings Canada’s running tally at the Championships to seven, improving the all-time best of five medals won at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Russia. Going into the last day of competition Canada is eighth on the IAAF overall placing table with an all-time best 56 points: 1 gold, 3 silver, 3 bronze, 1 fourth place, 1 sixth place, 1 eight place.
Melissa Bishop won silver in the women’s 800-metres in a time of 1:58.12. Bishop advanced to the final by setting a massive Canadian record of 1:57.52 in the semis. The silver medal is Canada’s first at the World Championships in the women’s 800-metres, and the best finish in the event since Diane Cummins placed fifth in 2001. “I have to give credit to Dennis Fairall (her coach), every race we’ve run he’s almost called it to a tee, it’s all on Dennis, I’m giving this one to Dennis. You have to learn how to go through these rounds, in 2012 and 2013 I was still an immature athlete in the sense that I didn’t know how to get through them, you live and you learn, and now I have the silver medal around my neck.”
Damian Warner upgraded his medal after winning bronze at the 2013 World Championships with a Canadian record of 8695 points in Beijing to take the silver. He opened up day two of the decathlon by recording the fastest time of 13.63 for 1023 points in the 110-metre hurdles. The discus was up next, he registered a best throw of 44.99-metres for 767 points. Another personal best was set in the pole vault, 4.80-metres for 849 points. In the javelin Damian set a season’s best of 63.50-metres earning himself 791 points. He closed off the decathlon with a showing of 4:31.51 for 735 points in the 1500-metres. “It was very tough, at the Pan Am Games I felt amazing physically, here through 8 events I felt amazing, but I didn’t have that little extra for the last couple of events. My legs just didn’t want to cooperate but I broke the Canadian record once again, I can’t really complain. I’m glad I was a part of it and got to see what it takes to break the World Record (American Ashton Eaton won gold in a new World Record). I believe I’m capable of doing that too, as an athlete that motivates me. My support team and coaches mean the world to me. Over the years I continue to improve. I am in the right environment.”
The quartet of Aaron Brown of Toronto, Ont., Andre De Grasse of Markham, Ont., Brendon Rodney of Brampton, Ont., and Justyn Warner of Markham combined for a time of 38.13 to secure bronze. The men’s 4×100-metres also won bronze at the 2013 World Championships. Justyn Warner, “It was nice, Peter (the Head Coach) told us to stay down on the track, there might have been a DQ, all of our exchanges were horrible. I’m happy as a team, we have six guys, anybody could have stepped on the track and run well, whether Gavin was ready to run or not (groin injury), we just had to come together as a team.” Andre De Grasse on being second, and not the anchor, “Coach Glenroy was trying to get us an early lead, he put me on the backstretch, Aaron or Justyn can hold it down in the anchor position and execute the race, I don’t think it really mattered, it’s all in the coaches’ hands. I had an amazing season, to end it like that, my last run, I’m just happy we came out with the bronze.” Aaron Brown, “It’s great to bring back medals with Andre to Canada and to the USC Trojans.” Brendon Rodney, “I knew I was in as of yesterday, I’ve been working really hard since the training camp in Ottawa to be in this position, to be running with these guys, they’re my brothers, we laugh and joke and argue sometimes, but I always want to be running with them.”
Mohammed Ahmed of St. Catherines, Ont., placed 12th in the men’s 5000-metres final marking Canada’s best finish ever in the event at the World Championships. The previous best was from Carey Nelson, 15th in 1987. “I felt a little bit lethargic, a bit heavy, it was really hot, I think that got to me a little bit. I was trying to stay as comfortable as I could, try to make minimal amount of surges as I could, I had nothing left, I was kicking and trying to go with it, tried to give myself a chance with the last 200-metres but they just ran away from me.”
In the morning session the women’s 4×100-metres relay team set a Canadian record in the semi-finals to advance to the final. Crystal Emmanuel of Pickering, Ont., Kim Hyacinthe of Terrebonne, Que., Isatu Fofanah of Edmonton, Alta., and Khamica Bingham of Brampton, Ont., combined for a new national record of 42.60 seconds.
In the evening final the team ran 43.05 to place seventh overall. Khamica Bingham, “We’re a little disappointed, we ran really well in the heats, we wanted to come out here in the final and break the record again, get on that podium. It didn’t happen today, we’re looking forward to new opportunities to get on the podium.”
Also in the morning session the men’s 4×100-metres relay team advanced to the final on time with a seasonal best of 38.03. The lineup of Justyn Warner of Markham, Ont., Andre De Grasse of Markham, Ont., Brendon Rodney of Brampton, Ont., and Aaron Brown of Toronto, Ont., combined for a fifth place finish in the second semi-final. The second semi was extremely fast; their time of 38.03 would have put them in second place in the first semi.
The Women’s 4×400-metres relay team was fourth in the first semi-final in a seasonal best of 3:26.14 to advance to the final. It’s the first time Canada qualifies for a World Championship final in the event since the 2001 edition in Edmonton. The quartet was composed of Carline Muir of Edmonton, Alta., Aiyanna Stiverne of Laval, Que., Sage Watson of Calgary, Alta., and Nicole Sassine of Windsor, Ont.
Carline Muir, “I’m emotional because of the season I’ve had, and these girls know, I’m just so happy right now we get a chance to show the world that Canada is here, be aware.” Sage Watson, “I’m loving my experience, its good preparation for the Olympics, that’s what everybody wants to do. This gives us the experience and confidence to achieve these things in Rio.” Nicole Sassine, “I tried to stay with the big girls, this is my first major Championship, it felt great to be out there.” Aiyanna Stiverne, “I was trying not to think too much, as the second leg you can’t just cut over, you have to gradually go in, I was trying not to get too excited, it’s my first senior meet, I’m only 20-years old, I wanted to make sure I ran a good race and stayed comfortable.
Evan Dunfee finished the 50-kilometre race walk in a personal best time of 3:49:56 to place 12th. Earlier this week Dunfee was 12th in the 20-kilometre race walk. “I came here hoping for a top 15, I got that in the 20km, so I thought for the 50km, what the heck, I want a top 8, I want to contribute to our team, earn at least 1 point for this team, I really wanted that top 8, I put myself in a good position, I was on the Canadian record pace until about 42-43km, wheels came off a little bit. This is my fourth 50km, I’ve blown up in all of them, this is the one I’ve blown up the least in. Next time I’ll try and blow up a little bit less, but 8 and a half minute personal best so I can’t complain.”
Mathieu Bilodeau of Calgary, Alta., was 31st in the 50-kilometre race walk in 4:01:35. “It was a tough one, probably missing some experience, I started walking last year, it’s pretty new to me, this was my second 50km, I started a little bit too fast. I was on pace to hit the Olympic standard until about 14km to go, I’m very confident I’ll hit it in March.”
Canada had two entries in the men’s masters’ demonstration 800-metres. Michael Sherar of Toronto, Ont., was third in 2:03.61 and Paul Osland, also of Toronto, Ont., placed tenth in 2:10.60.
Day 9 preview (final day of competition)
6:30am – Men’s High Jump final
Derek Drouin, Corunna, ON
6:45am – Women’s Javelin final
Elizabeth Gleadle, Vancouver, BC
8:05am – Women’s 4×400-metres final
Carline Muir, Edmonton, AB
Aiyanna Stiverne, Laval, QC
Sage Watson, Calgary, AB
Nicole Sassine, Windsor, ON