Vancouver javelin thrower sets new Canadian mark in Olympic tune-up | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vancouver javelin thrower sets new Canadian mark in Olympic tune-up

BURNABY, B.C. - Liz Gleadle had been waiting for this opportunity for a long time.

She didn't disappoint her fans — or herself.

The 23-year-old Vancouver native set a new Canadian record at the Harry Jerome Track Classic as she tossed the spear 61.15 metres at Swangard Stadium. In the process, she all but confirmed her first Olympic berth this summer in London.

"I love this meet, I love competing at home, my whole family was going to be here, and it was exactly what I wanted to do," said Gleadle, who estimated she had 30 family members and friends on hand for the occasion.

Gleadle, who now trains in Lethbridge, Alta., set the record on her first attempt.

"As soon as it left my hand, it was like, yes, this is it!" said Gleadle.

She broke her previous record of 59.85 metres and needs only to finish in the top three at the Canadian Olympic trials, which go June 27-30 in Calgary, to secure her ticket to London.

"I've been due for a real personal best, a real big jump, I felt, and today was the day to do it," said Gleadle.

Krista Woodward of Vancouver placed second with a toss of 53.27 metres. But the result spelled disappointment for Woodward, because she failed to meet the Canadian Olympic Committee's B standard under calm conditions.

To qualify for London, athletes in field events must achieve the B standard twice or the A standard once.

Woodward has achieved the B standard once, but needs another B-level showing — at least 59 metres — to have a chance to go to London, and time is running out on opportunities to qualify.

Tiffany Perkins of Abbotsford, B.C., placed third with a throw of 52.02 metres.

Gleadle had previously achieved the two B marks.

"I feel like I've got a bit of a leg up now," said Gleadle.

The kinesiology student overcame months of hard work, sacrifice and no shortage of pain to set the record. She took a year off from her studies to devote herself fully to training for the Games.

"I ate, I slept, I trained twice a day, I napped," she said. "I ate well. I ate more. I put on 10 pounds. You make (aiming for the Games) your passion, you make it your life — and there are rewards to it."

She has overcome arm and back injuries the past two seasons that hampered her performances at national championships and a freak leg injury earlier this year while training in Lethbridge. In January, she was standing in the wrong place at the wrong time when a hammer thrower's ball broke off from its chain and hit her in the leg, forcing her to miss a month of action.

She was glad to be able to provide proof of the hard work to her friends and family, who rarely get a chance to see her throw the javelin.

"I wanted them to know I don't just go to the gym and run around in spandex," said Gleadle. "I actually do throw javelin, and now you can see that I've done it."

Meanwhile, Dylan Armstrong, one of Canada's best Olympic medal hopes, won the shot competition with a toss of 21.24 metres while competing mainly against himself as the rest of the world's best were absent. No other competitors cracked the 20-metre mark.

Armstrong, who criss-crossed the globe in recent weeks to compete at international meets, said he was surprised to exceed 21 metres.

"It was a great meet, but I am tired, and to throw over 21 metres — considering what I've been through the last two weeks here, we're right on track," said Armstrong, who strives to produce strong performances when he's fatigued and competes more frequently than his peers.

Ming-Huang Chang of Taiwan threw 19.82 metres to place second, while Justin Rohde, a Bainbridge, Ohio native who is now a Canadian citizen and trains with Armstrong in Kamloops, placed third with a toss of 19.55 metres. He has met Canada's Olympic A standard, but falls short of the International Amateur Athletics Federation requirement to be a citizen for at least two years of a country he wishes to represent.

In other highlights, 800-metre runner Jessica Smith of North Vancouver, B.C., earned a Games berth, pending an expected top-three finish at the Olympic trials, as she came from behind to win her event in one minute and 59.86 seconds. A euphoric Smith ran under two minutes for the first time in her career, and was hugged at the finish line seconds afterward by coach Brit Townsend and Melissa Bishop of Eganville, Ont., who has already met the necessary Olympic standard.

Smith beat runnerup Alice Schmidt of the U.S. by seven one-hundredths of a second as the American posted a time of 1:59.93. Bishop finished third in 2:00.45.

In another feature event, Jessica Zelinka of London, Ont., won the women's 100-metre hurdles in a wind-aided 12.76 seconds, bettering Ginnie Crawford of the U.S. (12.87). Former world champion Perdita Felicien of Pickering, Ont., who is considered a medal contender, placed third in 12.96 seconds, 20 one-hundredths behind the winner.

Zelinka's clocking was a career best and met the Olympic A qualifying level, but she is a heptathlete and does not plan to compete in the hurdles event at London. The heptathlon, which was not on the Jerome schedule, encompasses a number of track and field that include hurdles, but the Olympic hurdles competition is unique unto itself.

It's questionable whether she will even compete in hurdles at the Olympic trials.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

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