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Athletics Canada selects team for Doha 2019

OTTAWA – Athletics Canada announced their team of 49 athletes who have been selected to represent Canada at the 2019 IAAF World Championships taking place in Doha, Qatar, from Sept. 27 to Oct. 6. All events will be held at Doha’s Khalifa Stadium with the exception of the marathon and race walk that will take place at Doha Croniche and will see athletes run along the Doha Bay and the city’s seafront.

The team is comprised of 25 men and 24 women, with 26 athletes returning from the 2017 World Championships team that finished 14th on the IAAF Placing Table with 30 points (two fifth, five sixth, two seventh and three eighth place finishes), produced two Canadian records (Mohammed Ahmed and Geneviève Lalonde), three personal bests, and 10 season’s best performances. The Canadian contingent heading to Doha will compete in 31 out of 49 events, with the 3,000-metre steeplechase featuring the most Canadian entries (three men and three women).

“Having some veterans, along with rookies, is part of the tapestry of our sport; it bodes well. When you look back at 2017, the performance as a whole was lacking for various reasons,” said Head Coach Glenroy Gilbert. “We are looking for a better result this year, but the challenges will be there. In Doha, the challenges will be the heat and the time zone, but I think we’ve done a good job trying to mitigate those situations for our athletes. I’m expecting that our team will be prepared and ready to perform when they arrive in Doha.”

Performance on demand and being able to produce results, such as seasonal bests, personal bests, Top 8 placings and podium finishes, at major international competitions is something that is communicated to each National Team. An athlete’s ability to execute is something Gilbert and Athletics Canada’s high-performance team looks for at every single event.

“In Doha, we could see a number of athletes on the podium or within striking distance,” said Gilbert. “Aaron Brown has shown he’s in good form in the 100- and 200-metres, as is Andre De Grasse. Alysha Newman is right up there, especially after her performance at the Diamond League meet in Paris, as is Brittany Crew and Gabriela DeBues-Stafford. Mohammed Ahmed is fit and has dropped some big performances, while the decathlon duo of Damian Warner and Pierce LePage is going to be exceptional. Not to mention our mixed 4×400-metre relay team that medalled at the IAAF World Relays, as well as the 4×400-metre women.”

In the midst of a strong outdoor season, 11 Canadians find themselves in the Top 10 on the IAAF World Rankings List (as of Aug. 27, 2019), which is a combination of an athlete’s measured results and their placing during competitions.

Canadian athletes ranked in the Top 10:
Damian Warner – Men’s decathlon (2nd)
Aaron Brown – Men’s 200m (3rd)
Brandon McBride – Men’s 800m (3rd)
Gabriela DeBues-Stafford – Women’s 1,500 (4th)
Alysha Newman – Women’s pole vault (5th)
Andre De Grasse – Men’s 200m (5th), men’s 100m (8th)
Mohammed Ahmed – Men’s 10,000m (6th)
Pierce LePage – Men’s decathlon (7th)
Crystal Emmanuel – Women’s 200m (9th)
Michael Mason – Men’s high jump (9th)
Brittany Crew – Women’s shot put (10th)

After securing his berth to the 2019 World Championship with double gold at the 2019 Canadian Track & Field Championships, sprinter Aaron Brown took a moment to reflect on his season and how it has prepared him for Doha. “I really wanted to build off of my 2018 campaign and use that momentum to be even better in 2019. It’s been a great year thus far, but I have to stay focused and be ready, both physically and mentally, to peak at the end of the season,” said Brown. “The World Championships have been the focal point of the season. Everything leading up to this point has been good preparation to go against the world’s best. In Doha I’m looking to challenge for podium spots, which would give me ultimate confidence going into 2020. Moreover, I’m looking for consistent performances with great execution.”

Natasha Wodak, who was named to the team in June alongside Mohammed Ahmed in the 10,000-metres and racewalkers Mathieu Bilodeau, Evan Dunfee and Rachel Seaman, sports a shiny new Pan American Games gold medal and Games record in the 10,000-metres and has had a year to remember. The 37-year-old captured Canadian titles in the 10K road race and 10,000-metres, and won three road races on the west coast.

“It has been a whirlwind of a season that’s for sure. We have been going hard since January, racing almost every month,” said Wodak. “It has been a lot, but we have been very careful about taking time to properly recover from big races. This has been the key to staying healthy and performing well when it counts. I am well prepared for the World Championships, especially after a successful Pan American Games 10,000-metres. I want to test my limits in Doha and take chances. I know I am capable of finishing in the Top 12, so I need to be confident and brave. I want to walk away from Doha knowing I gave it my all. If I can compete well, it will help build my confidence going into Tokyo.”

Prior to the Championships getting underway in Doha, Canadian athletes will have the opportunity to take part in two training camps – one in St. Moritz, Switzerland, that will help athletes adjust to the altitude, the other in Barcelona, Spain, where the emphasis will be on adjusting to the heat that is certain to greet the team in Doha.

“Prior to all global events we implement contemporary approaches to maximize championship performance through our pre-event training camps,” said Athletics Canada’s Sports Science Sports Medicine and Innovation Lead, Dr. Trent Stellingwerff. “This includes considerations around environmental conditions, time zones, travel fatigue and optimal training camp monitoring. In advance of the World Championships, Athletics Canada will implement an altitude training camp option, as well as warm/hot weather training camp to allow athletes to optimally acclimate and be ready to perform in Doha.”

Representing Canada on the World stage is not something that Canadian athletes take for granted. “It’s always an honour being able to represent Canada and not something that I take for granted. The energy is different at a World Championships, because you know this is the cream of the crop. You’re literally going up against the best the world has to offer with no country or age restrictions,” said Brown. “We all recognize the magnitude of competition at this level and want to use this platform to prove ourselves.”

“Besides the Olympic Games this is the biggest competition we have in track and field. It is a privilege to be on any Canadian Team, but especially the big ones,” added Wodak. “It is incredible to wear the Team Canada uniform. I am so proud to represent Canada, the best country in the world, and feel very grateful to wear the red and white.”