Where Your Dreams Become Reality
Taylor Milne Surprises in 1500 at Harry Jerome
Unheralded Taylor Milne gambled
and hit the jackpot Saturday in the men’s 1,500 metres at the Vancouver
Sun Harry Jerome International Track Classic.
With 300 metres remaining the
26-year-old runner based in Guelph, Ont., launched a determined drive
past leader Kevin Sullivan and galloped away to win the race in a personal
best 3:36.00 – good enough to secure a coveted A-plus qualifying standard
for the Summer Olympics in Beijing.
“I went a little earlier
than I wanted to but at the 300 mark you never know when you’re going
to die so I thought I might as well get some money in the bank now and
I went for it,” said Milne. “ I looked over my shoulder at about
100 and I was still going strong. I knew I was going to win the race
and then I saw the clock and I knew I had a shot at the standard.”
The men’s 1,500 metres was
meant to be a highlight event at the 25th annual Jerome meet
but on paper the race looked to be a spot for Canadian record holder
Kevin Sullivan, who also earned an A-plus standard earlier this season,
to set an inspired pace that would draw another runner to Olympic standard.
That runner looked to be Nathan Brannen of Cambridge, Ont., who needed
to shave 1.12 seconds off his season best of 3:37.72 to attain the 3:36.60
But with Sullivan leading the
pack it was Milne, not Brannen, who swept past the national team veteran
and grabbed the race win and the standard.
“This was the big goal,”
said Milne, who now needs to finish in the top four at the national
Olympic trials to secure his trip to Beijing. “I kind of flew under
the radar. No one was talking about me but I knew I had a shot. I knew
Nate had a good shot, too. He’d been running like a champ all year
even after coming off an injury. Top four is still going to be tough
at nationals. It’s not going to be a gimme.”
Sullivan, who is looking to
compete in his third Olympic Games, conceded that he had expected it
to be Brannen who offered the challenge but he was quick to note Milne
has been an athlete on the improve for some time.
“I came here to help someone
get to Beijing but I don’t know I necessarily expected it to be Taylor,”
said Sullivan, who wound up fourth behind Milne, Grant Robison (3:37.22)
and Juan Luis Barrios (3:37.87). “But anyone who has watched
Taylor over the last three years has seen the improvement every year
so it doesn’t surprise me that he ran that fast. I was surprised that
he was in front of me, but that shows the depth of the event in our
country right now.”
The 2008 Jerome meet was punctuated
by not only strong performances by competitors such as Milne, but by
efforts that fell short of attaining Olympic standards as the qualifying
window closes and the last chance trials loom in early July.
Angela Whyte, sixth-place finisher
in the Olympic women’s 100 hurdles final four years ago in Athens,
was clearly frustrated Saturday after finishing third in her event in
13.23. The national team veteran underwent surgery to her right knee
in March and conceded Saturday her performance is not where she wants
it to be.
“I am working on just getting
back, obviously it’s not going the way I want it to right now,”
said Whyte. “I’m not happy, I’m not going to lie, I’m not happy
at all. I am kind of frustrated. I don’t know what to do to get back
to where I need to be. I don’t just want to be on the team. Don’t
get me wrong, it’s an honour any time you can represent Canada at
the Olympics but I want to do more than just that.”
Meantime, former world junior
champion Mike Mason also fell short of attaining the requisite 2.30-metre
A-plus standard in the men’s high jump. At a meet in Abbotsford earlier
this week he just grazed the bar at the height and brought it down.
But he didn’t come close to that Saturday, finishing third behind
American winner Jesse Williams (2.30) with a 2.24-metre leap and a gash
on the back of his head suffered when he made contact with the edge
of a jump standard on his first attempt at 2.27.
“It was a corner and my head
started to bleed,” he said. “I had to take a break, medics had to
come over and clean it up. I ended up passing to 2.30, took two attempts
at that but I just didn’t have it in me. I wasn’t feeling too bad,
it shook me up a bit but I don’t think it affected my jumping. But
now it comes down to the trials.”
Mason, who has two 2.27 efforts
this year, now needs to win at the Olympic trials to make Canada’s
team to Beijing.
Local favourite Ruky Abdulai,
who was born in Ghana but recently received her Canadian citizenship,
needed a 6.60 effort in women’s long jump but she came up short with
a 6.39-metre effort. Earlier in the week she came closer with a 6.55
leap in Abbotsford.
“It was really close but
it was a foul,” said Abdulai of Saturday’s last jump, which looked
the right distance but was ruled ineigible by officials. “ I’ve
never fouled that much. But it shows me my speed is getting better and
I have to adjust to that. I know the jump is there. I know it’s going
to happen, I don’t know when. Now, I have to win the nationals, that
is the only option right now. I just want to go in there ready and jump.”