Harry Jerome 2011: Andrew Ellerton Gets His First 1:45

By Harry Jerome Track Classic
July 1, 2011

Burnaby, B.C. - Many of Canada’s finest track and field athletes marked their July 1 national holiday with memorable performances at the Harry Jerome International Track Classic in Vancouver. Strong fields of competitors from 16 countries produced one meet record and several Canadians achieved IAAF World Championship standards.

No one was more thrilled than Andrew Ellerton of Sudbury Ontario, who took the lead in the men’s 800 metres on the homestretch and held off American 20-year-old phenom Cas Loxsom to win in 1:45.04. The time was more than a second better than his previous personal best, and he might have gone even faster if not for a stumble with 30 metres to go. Loxsom finished second in 1:45.28, and Richard Jones of the U.S. was third in 1:45.56. Also notable was seventh-place Kefri Neil, whose 1:49.43 clocking places him third among North American high schoolers.

Achieving the World Championship A standard was a long-awaited triumph for Ellerton, who won the 2007 NCAA outdoor 800-metre title for the University of Michigan. “I’ve been running 1:46’s for a lot of years now,” he said. “I had a pretty successful collegiate career, I won a lot of things, but the stars have never really aligned for me. So I’ve been healthy for a year and it’s finally come.” Ellerton lost 14 months of training in 2009 with a stress fracture in his foot. He’s also had a history of tragic misses: in 2004 he was four-tenths of a second from qualifying for the Olympics, and in 2008 he was seven-hundredths short of a trip to Beijing. “I’ve always just been on the cusp so I’ve been looking for that breakthrough and it finally came today.”

Less impressed with her final result was two-time World Champion Perdita Felicien, who made a blunt assessment of her 12.79 100-m hurdle race: “It was not poetry in motion.” Over a series of recent races in Europe, she has struggled with the last four barriers. Today they nearly cost her a win, as she fought off Canadian Olympic finalist Angela Whyte (12.88) and her training partner, heptathlete Jessica Zelinka (13.02). “Technically I wasn’t happy with it,” said Felicien, “but when you run 12.79 and you feel like it was sloppy, that’s a good sign. For me it’s a matter of putting the race together.”

Felicien will compete at the final meet of Canada’s National Track League in Toronto on July 13, but plans to forgo races in Europe through July. Instead she will focus on training at her base in Calgary. “It’s a nice amount of window to turn things around,” she said. “The greater good is to get ready for [the World Championships in] Korea.”

Shot putter Dylan Armstrong, who established a world-leading mark and new national record (22.21m) at the Canadian championships on June 25, comfortably won with 21.21 m. “I was happy with that,” said Armstrong, who admitted to being the messiest competitor with his neck, shirt and hands marked up with chalk. “I’m a little bit tired from the last few days but anything over 21 is good for me right now.” Armstrong had planned to travel to Lausanne for the June 30 meet to add to his two Samsung Diamond League meet wins, but his flight out of Edmonton was cancelled due to bad weather. Americans Noah Bryant (20.41m) and Russ Winger (20.18) were second and third respectively.

The sole meet record came in the women’s hammer, where German Kathrin Klaas tossed 72.40 metres to eclipse the 2004 mark of 70.36 from Erin Gilreath of the U.S. The mark was also the best-ever on Canadian soil. The throw was short of Klaas’s 75.48-m personal best, which ranks her third in the world this year. “I’m still suffering a bit from the time difference so I’m happy to win here today,” she said, “It’s my first time in Canada and I’m really enjoying Canada Day!” She decided to travel here to join her friend Sultana Frizell, who finished second in the event. The two met as roommates on the European circuit in 2009. Frizell, who has qualified for the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, was happy with her throw of 69.66 m. “It was by far my most consistent meet this year because we’ve been working on a lot of technical stuff. It’s been a roller coaster but it keeps getting better and better each meet.”

Also happy with a solid effort was Nate Brannen of Cambridge Ontario, who passed 2008 Canadian Olympian Taylor Milne with 200 metres to go and comfortably clinched the men’s 1500m in 3:36.75. “It was just a good race,” said Brannen, who missed last year’s outdoor season due to an injury. “I feel like it’s a good rustbuster and hopefully my consistency this year will be 3:33 to 3:36 on the slow end.” Geoff Martinson of Victoria B.C. was more enthusiastic with his second-place finish in 3:37.56, a personal best of almost two seconds. The World Championship B standard puts him in the running for a spot on the team to South Korea with Canada’s Rising Star program, aimed at young athletes who have never made a national team. “I knew the pace was starting to slow and I knew what we had to run for the last lap, so I moved out and Nate went by me too. I just held on for dear life.”  


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