“I want to win”: Newman, Dunfee ready to set the tone at 2019 Pan American Games

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LONDON, ENG - AUGUST 6: 2017 IAAF World Track & Field Championships Day Three on August 6, 2017 at Olympic Stadium in London,England. Photo: Claus Andersen

It didn’t take long for Canada’s top athletes to get back to work after the Canadian Track & Field Championships. Forty-four (44) athletes are in Lima, Peru, for the 2019 Pan American Games with a number of veterans returning from the 2015 team, as well as many new faces. Together, they form a team that is ready for success.

Among the new faces will be Canadian pole vault record holder Alysha Newman. In 2015, she was prepared to represent Canada on home soil in front of her family and friends, but due to a last-minute injury, she didn’t qualify for the team. Now, she’s ready to show the world what she can do.

“I want to win,” said Newman, fresh off yet another Canadian record (4.77 metres) in the women’s pole vault. “For me to go to the Pan American Games this time around, I want to go in and make a statement. You didn’t see me in 2015, but I’m here now.”

After coming back from a knee injury that forced her to shut down her 2018 season prematurely, Newman is on her way back up, already resetting her previous indoor and outdoor records four times this season.

The 2019 season has been a busy one for Newman, but she has found success by taking it one meet at a time. After reclaiming her Canadian pole vault title in Montreal last week, her attention has shifted to the Pan American Games with a new set of goals.

“I see it as graduation days. Commonwealth was one graduation. I did it, I broke the record, I got the gold medal. Now, I’m off to Pan Ams,” said Newman. “I don’t overthink it, at the end of the day, I take it one meet at a time, one bar at a time.”

With four years between the Toronto Games and the present, the team features a new group of athletes ready to sport the maple leaf. Along with Newman, the team also has a number of new Canadian record holders, including Brittany Crew (shot put), Rachel Cliff (marathon), Liz Gleadle (javelin), as well as rising stars like Pierce LePage (decathlon), Camryn Rogers (U23 hammer record holder), and many more.

With so many new faces on this year’s team, there will also be a core of returning athletes ready to lead the group. The veterans include Canadian decathlon record holder Damian Warner, Canadian Champion Crystal Emmanuel (100-metres), 3,000-metre steeplechase record holder Geneviève Lalonde, long jump record holder Christabel Nettey and Canadian Champion Tim Nedow. Together, this group is sure to bring different experiences and advice to the squad.

Among those leaders will also be reigning Pan American gold medallist, Evan Dunfee who will kick-off the Games on Sunday, Aug. 4, in the men’s 20-kilometre race walk. The Richmond, B.C., native earned Canada’s first medal during the Toronto Pan American Games and hopes to set the tone once again this year.

“I’ve been around for a while now and it is so much fun to be one of the veterans on the team and to share my experiences, both highs and the lows,” said Dunfee. “With the race walk being the first event, I have the opportunity to kick things off on the right foot and to set the standard. I want to set the team up for success.”

Athletics competition at the 2019 Pan American Games begins on Aug. 4 and runs through Aug. 11 with 41 countries competing throughout the Games.

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