Brittany Crew undoubtedly put a big smile on the face of her ailing coach Richard Parkinson, who was sitting in his hotel room a few miles away from the women’s shot put final at London Stadium on Wednesday.
Crew, 23, had a best throw of 18.21 metres on a cool and rainy night at the track and field world championships to finish sixth in the field of 12. Canada has never had a woman finish among the top eight in the event at worlds.
Parkinson has been quarantined with the norovirus that has struck nine members of the Canadian team. He believed he would only have to miss Tuesday’s qualifying round, but with as many as 30 athletes at the same central London hotel falling ill with the stomach virus, the quarantine period was extended to 48 hours.
“It was sad because I want him to be here. We’ve done this together,” Crew told Canadian Press afterward. “But I have to focus on myself, first of all.
“I’m happy that it’s not me [sick],” she added, with a laugh.
Parkinson’s 48-hour quarantine ended at 3 a.m. Thursday.
“I wish I was there to feel the excitement of the stadium and the crowd,” Parkinson said from the central London hotel, where more than 30 athletes from several teams have fallen ill. “But, I think tonight’s competition shows that there will be plenty more opportunities in the future for me and Canadians to cheer on Brittany.”
Crew threw 17.52 on her first attempt Wednesday before her 18.21 moved the Mississauga, Ont., native into fifth spot. She advanced to the final eight and three more throws after posting 17.71 on her third attempt.
“Brittany was very impressive,” said CBC Sports analyst Dave Moorcroft. “It looked like she really went for it in her fifth and sixth round because she would have had nothing to lose [having already met her goal of a top-eight finish].
“She is still young in an event where athletes mature later in their career.”
Crew advanced to Wednesday’s final with a throw of 18.01 on Tuesday.
Just like he did for Tuesday night’s qualifying round, Parkinson relayed coaching tips through an elaborate chain of Canadian team members.
The team’s biomechanist Dana Way shot video with his high-definition camera, then played it back, shooting the screen with his smart phone. He in turn sent the video to Parkinson. Parkinson then texted his thoughts to shot putter Tim Nedow, who sat in the stadium’s coach section. He’d relay the comments to Crew.
“(He had) just a couple of cues: ‘You’ve got to go slow at the back,’ and ‘Speed it up in the centre,’ and ‘Look at that towel on the ground,”‘ Crew recounted.
The towel is a trick of their’s. Crew lays a towel at the back of the circle which she trains her eyes on until the very last second. It keeps her from turning her head too quickly, which costs precious torque.
Crew arrived in London having met the world qualifying standard of 17.75 six times, including her throw of 18.32 to win at the Canadian championships in July.
On May 20, Crew improved on her national record with a throw of 18.58 in Tucson, Ariz. Two days earlier, she broke Julie Labonte’s mark of 18:31 that stood since 2011. Crew finished 9th in her qualifying group at the Rio Olympics, but Moorcroft believes Wednesday’s bounce-back effort sets her up well for the balance of her career.
Elsewhere, Lijiao Gong of China won the gold medal with a throw of 19.94. Anita Marton of Hungary was second (19.49) and United States-record holder Michelle Carter’s third throw of 19.14 was good enough to win a bronze medal.
Carter, who became the first American woman to win shot put gold last summer at the Rio Olympics, is the daughter of former NFL defensive lineman and three-time Super Bowl champion Michael Carter, a silver medallist in shot put at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
Lalonde to steeplechase final after fall
Canadian-record holder Genevieve Lalonde advanced to the women’s 3,000-metre steeplechase final despite scraping her left knee after tripping over a barrier early in Wednesday’s race.
Genevieve Lalonde qualifies for women’s 3000m steeplechase final11:24
The Moncton native stopped the clock in a season-best nine minutes 31.81 seconds to finish fifth among 13 steeplechasers in her heat and ninth overall.
Lalonde, 25, won her first Canadian title last month in a championship record 9:37.45 at Ottawa. She set her Canadian record of 9:30.24 last August at the Rio Olympics, where Lalonde placed 16th in the final.
“If she can replicate [Wednesday’s] performance in the final when the weather should be better, she could break her own record and maybe finish in the top six,” Moorcroft said.
In other Canadian results, Alycia Butterworth of Parksville, B.C., was 26th in 9:51.50 and Calgary’s Maria Bernard 32nd in 9:59.45.
Friday’s 15-women final is scheduled for 4:25 p.m. ET.
Knight qualifies for 5,000 final in worlds debut
Canada’s Justyn Knight, making his debut at the world championships, sat mid-pack with one lap to go in his 5,000-metre heat on a wet track at London Stadium. Suddenly, he broke wide right and passed 2016 Olympian Aron Kifle of Eritrea in the closing stages to finish fourth in 13 minutes 30.27 seconds and qualify for Saturday’s final at 3:20 p.m. ET.
“It’s just been spectacular to come out to an environment like this,” Knight told CBC Sports. “I’ve never been to something like this with such a huge crowd.”
Canada’s Justyn Knight, left, makes a move during the final lap of his 5,000-metre heat en route to a fourth-place finish to qualify for Saturday’s final. (Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images)
“Justyn Knight was something of a revelation,” said Moorcroft. “He showed great maturity in a race that was slow early on and there was a considerable amount of bunching. He held the inside lane well, kept out of trouble.
“On the final lap, he looked like an experienced distance runner, holding his position around the top bend and kicking hard down the straightaway.”
Canada’s Justyn Knight advances to 5000m finals at IAAF Worlds18:36
Mo Ahmed, fresh off setting the Canadian record in the 10,000 last Friday, also qualified, finishing sixth in his heat in 13:22.97.
Knight, 21, ran 14:36.23 to finish third in the event at the NCAA Division I Championships in June.
The Syracuse University star from Toronto made headlines in early May by setting a world standard and breaking a school record with a personal-best 13:17.51 at the Payton Jordan Invitational in California.
“If the pace is hard early on in the final, he could improve his best time of 13:17.51,” said Moorcroft of Knight. “He should look towards a top-10 finish on Saturday.”
At the Canadian track and field championships last June, Knight missed the 2016 Olympic qualifying standard by 1.36 seconds.
Ahmed holds the Canadian 5,000 record at 13:01.74. Earlier this season, the 26-year-old broke national marks in the indoor two-mile and indoor 5,000, each held by Cam Levins.
Canadian Mohammed Ahmed posts 6th best 5000m qualifying time11:42
Moorcroft noted Ahmed’s confidence has soared since his fourth-place finish in the 5,000 at the Rio Olympics.
“Mo’s heat [on Wednesday] was very physical and he did well to keep out of trouble,” Moorcroft added. “Tactically, he was very impressive, and although it will be tough in the final, he has a chance of being in the medal hunt.”
According to Athletics Canada, Carey Nelson (1987) and Ahmed (2015) are the only Canadians to be finalists in the 5,000 at worlds.
Meanwhile, British distance legend Mo Farah ran a controlled race and coasted home in second place to automatically qualify for the final behind Yomif Kejelcha of Ethiopia. Farah won the 10,000 on Friday, his sixth word championship gold.
Nettey 19th in long jump, misses final
Christabel Nettey of Surrey, B.C., arrived at the world championships ranked third in the world in women’s long jump but won’t compete in Friday’s final.
The 26-year-old jumped couldn’t improve upon her first attempt of 6.36 metres and finished 19th of 30 competitors.
On July 9, Nettey jumped 6.63 at London Stadium during a Diamond League event. The Canadian record holder (6.99) threatened that mark with a season-best 6.92 on June 17 in Chula Vista, Calif.
At the 2015 worlds, Nettey finished fourth with a jump of 6.95.
Allyson Felix fails to defend 400 title
Despite her disappointing third-place finish, Allyson Felix won bronze in the 400 to give her a 14th career medal at the world championships, joining Usain Bolt and Merlene Ottey at the top of the list.
Bolt can still move to 15 with a medal in the 4×100 relay this weekend, but Felix might run on both relay races for the U.S. team, which could bring her to 16. Felix already has the most gold medals among women with nine overall. Bolt has 11.
Phyllis Francis of the United States upset the favourites to win Wednesday’s 400, finishing in 49.92 seconds, .14 seconds ahead of Salwa Eid Naser.
Van Niekerk shoots for 200/400 double
Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa is still on track for a 200-400 double after qualifying for the 200 final with a third-place showing in his heat in a time of 20.28 seconds. He already won gold in the 400 in London
Isaac Makwala also qualified for the final after getting a late go-ahead to compete.
After missing the heats with a stomach bug two days ago, Makwala first made the semifinals in a specially approved solo-run. He then ran a blistering race from the inside lane to reach the final as the second finisher from his heat behind Isiah Young from the United States.
Makwala pumped his right arm as he crossed 20.14 seconds, .02 seconds behind Young.
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