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Gary Reed a Runaway Winner at Harry Jerome
by: Hary Jerome Organizers
June 22, 2008

*Harry Jerome Results

Canadian 800-metre record holder Gary Reed showcased the power that earned him a 2007 world championship silver medal, winning the men’s 800 metres Saturday in what was a day of highlights and emotion at the 25th annual Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome International Track Classic. 

Victoria-based Reed was a runaway winner in the two-lap event at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium, recording his second season-best time in as many days with a 1:45.44 effort. Andrew Ellerton of Sudbury, Ont., took second at 1:46.50 followed by Switzerland’s Ueli Albert in 1:48.46. 

“I ran a season best two nights ago in Victoria, 1:45.66, today it’s another best,” said 26-year-old Reed, who holds the Canadian record of 1:43.93 set in 2006. 

“I have to be happy with back-to-back 1:45s. That’s the best I’ve done at this time of year and I’m very happy with it, especially my good, strong finish. Now I’ve got the national Olympic trials followed by four meets in Europe in July, where I will be sharpening with some really fast races. That should tune me up and get me ready for the Olympics.” 

The 25th annual Jerome meet, named in honour of great Canadian sprinter Harry Jerome who passed away suddenly in 1982, offered local track fans an intriguing mélange of superb efforts, unexpected results and five meet records – four recorded in the same event – in what was an important opportunity for Canadian athletes to attain Olympic qualifying standards prior to the July 3-6 national Olympic Trials in Windsor, Ont. 

Toronto’s Priscilla Lopes-Schliep rewrote her Jerome meet record in the women’s 100-metre hurdles, powering to victory in 12.86 seconds to erase her previous meet mark of 12.98 earned in 2005. Lopes-Schliep went on to win the women’s 100 metres in 11.61 seconds to cap a successful day as she works to toward the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.  

Meantime, San Diego-based discus throwers Jarred Rome and Ian Waltz waged a compelling, two-way battle on Canadian soil that saw them erase the meet record not once, but four times, during the afternoon. The existing mark of 61.80 metres was set in 1988 by Canadian Ray Lazdins but Waltz improved on that mark with his first toss of 62.26 metres. After fouling on his second effort Waltz then rewrote what was now his meet record with a 63.23-metre throw. In the next round he improved it again with a 64.32. 

But Rome had the last laugh, unleashing a meet record throw of his own in the fifth round, a 64.34 that was ultimately the event winner. 

“Really, it was a horrible day but I had that one good throw,” said Rome. “We always compete really well against each other. At the New York Grand Prix I was ahead by about four centimetres and in the last round he won. I only had one good throw today. I was pretty lucky to have it.” 

For his part Waltz, a two-time U.S. champion, conceded his longtime rival won the battle but their friendly discus war will surely continue.  

“That’s what’s made us one-two in the U.S. for the past four years,” said Waltz. “Competing against each other makes us better not only in practice but in meets. Two centimetres is close – I had a pretty decent series going. I’ve been averaging 66 metres all year so it wasn’t quite what I wanted today. But it helps me get ready for Olympic trials.” 

The most inspiring, and unexpected effort, of the meet came from 26-year-old Taylor Milne of Guelph, Ont. Milne hacked an impressive 3.5 seconds off his personal best to win the men’s 1,500 metres in 3:36.00. The effort also earned Milne the Athletics Canada A-plus qualification standard for the upcoming Olympics in Beijing.

“I ran a 3:39.54 a couple of weeks ago, I won by about three seconds and did a lot of leading,” said Milne, who with 300 metres remaining grabbed the lead from Canadian record holder Kevin Sullivan and never looked back. “So I knew there might be a couple more seconds in there, I didn’t know if there was three. It ended up being three and a half. I’m a bit surprised, but not super surprised.” 

For her part, Lopes-Schliep embraced her season best time and meet record as proof she is right on course in her preparation for the Beijing Olympics.  

“I’m very pleased,” she said. “The times are coming down consistently and that’s my focus for Beijing.  I’m happy where I’m at right now. I’m a very consistent runner. This is on point for nationals and later for the Olympics. I’m looking forward to big things.” 

Meantime, Kamloops shot putter Dylan Armstrong returned to Swangard, site of a breakthrough performance at the 2007 Jerome meet that saw him toss a personal best 20.72 to win the meet, qualify for the Pan-Am Games where he won a gold medal and then went on to finish ninth at the world championships. Earlier this year he set a Canadian shot put record of 20.92 metres. 

He won the shot put Saturday with a 20.57-metre effort, which he described as more than adequate given he is currently in a heavy phase of training.  

“Last year was a pretty good season but I want to make this one even better,” said Armstrong, who switched his focus to shot put three years ago after many years of competing in hammer throw. “ I want to get one over 21 metres at the Olympics, that’s what it’s going to take to medal.  I’ve been throwing over 21 in practice so it just has to come together on the day.” 

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