Less than one year from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Canadians made their mark at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships, leaving Doha, Qatar with five medals. That total ranks Athletics Canada among the top countries in total medals, a remarkable feat considering only one Canadian was ranked in the top three of their discipline entering the World Championships.
Canada equalled its best placing ever on the IAAF World Championships Placing Table, ranking ninth out of 219 countries, which they also accomplished in 2015.
Andre De Grasse performed the rare feat of medalling in both the 100- and 200-metres. He was the only athlete in the world to accomplish that at the 2019 Worlds. In all, Canada won one silver and four bronze medals.
“I’m very happy with the outcomes here,” said Head Coach Glenroy Gilbert. “We have Andre back, some experienced athletes performing at the next level and new younger athletes showing themselves.”
Returning to the World Championships Podium
Bad luck plagued the team at the last World Championships in London, England. A combination of key injuries and team illness to the team’s medal threats resulted in Canada not winning any medals. This year’s strong showing is the result of a well-executed plan, especially in dealing with the extreme conditions, by the athletes, the coaches, the support staff and Athletics Canada’s partners.
“Own The Podium, the Canadian Olympic Committee, Sport Canada and Nike kept faith in us and maintained or increased funding, which allowed us to continue on to do the things we needed to do,” said Simon Nathan, Athletics Canada High Performance Director. “That allowed us to come back and have a good result here. We’re building to Tokyo and it’s been really important to have that support in the background.”
Canada Meets Qatar
The 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships presented unique challenges for the team’s preparation, owing to the elevated altitude and the hot, humid climate in Doha. To avoid the most extreme conditions, this year’s meet was held later than usual in the calendar, making for a long season. Some long distance events were held late at night to miss the heat of the day.
“Our training camps in Barcelona and at altitude in St Moritz went very well because our Team Coaches were able to work with most of our athletes before we even left Canada and because the centres we used covered every event really well,” said Nathan.
The team also profited from support from 94 Forward – a legacy group from the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria. “Through them and the Canadian Sports Institute – Pacific, we’ve been running a heat and altitudes project for a year now and we’re continuing it into next year,” added Nathan. “We’ve had some leading physiology and sport science all the way through.”
The Future is Bright
Coach Gilbert is optimistic for the future. In addition to the fine performances from the team in Qatar, athletes like two-time Olympic medallist Derek Drouin, 2015 Pan American Games champion Melissa Bishop, and promising young athletes from NCAA schools who were unavailable for these World Championships will be in the mix for the Canadian Olympic Team next year.
“We’re doing it across the event groups and with more than one person per event in some cases,” he said. “Several up-and-coming athletes such as Alysha Newman, Brittany Crew and Gabriella DeBues-Stafford to name a few, had breakthrough performances this year. We’ve had 15 top 8’s which is the most ever at a World Championships for Canada.”
“While we are generally satisfied with our results here, we will not rest on our laurels,” Gilbert said. “We’ll do a full assessment and review post Championships, to continue to improve and work towards the ultimate goal of performing at our best in Tokyo.”
Canadian Medallists at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships
Silver – Andre De Grasse / 200-metres
Bronze – Mohammed Ahmed / 5000-metres
Bronze – Evan Dunfee / 50-km Race Walk
Bronze – Andre De Grasse / 100-metres
Bronze – Damian Warner / Decathlon
Top 8 Finishes by Canadian Athletes at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships
5th – Pierce LePage / Decathlon
5th – Alysha Newman / Pole Vault
6th – Mohammed Ahmed / 10000-metres
6th – Aaron Brown / 200-metres
6th – Gabriela DeBues-Stafford / 1500-metres
7th – Marco Arop / 800 metres
7th – Michael Mason / High Jump
8th – Aaron Brown / 100-metres
8th – Sage Watson / 400-metre Hurdles
8th – Brittany Crew / Shot Put
Canadian Records Set at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships
Mohammed Ahmed / 10000-metres / 26:59.35
Austin Cole, Aiyanna Stiverne, Madeline Price, Philip Osei / Mixed gender 4×400-metres / 3:16.76
Gabriela DeBues-Stafford / 1500-metres / 3:56.12
Sage Watson / 400-metre Hurdles / 54.32
Personal Bests Set at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships
Andre De Grasse / 100-metres / 9.90
Pierce LePage / Decathlon 400-metres / 47.35
Andrea Seccafien / 1500-metres / 15:04.67
Sage Watson / 400-metres Hurdles / 54.32
Story and Photo: Athletics Canada