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Grand Prix d’Athlétisme de Montréal preview

The Grand Prix d’Athlétisme de Montréal will feature Canadian Olympic and Paralympic athletes up against top ranked athletes from around the world. The three-hour block of high level competition on Saturday, February 18 will wrap-up day one competition of the 2017 Hershey Canadian Indoor Youth and Junior Championships.

Schedule

Hershey Canadian Indoor Championships

Grand Prix d'Athlétisme de Montréal

The weekend of top flight youth, junior and international athletics takes place February 18 and 19 at Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard. Admission is free thanks to the event’s corporate partners, if you're not in Montreal you can catch all the action live on www.athleticscanada.tv

Here’s a list of events to keep an eye on:

International Men’s 60-metres Hurdles - Round 1: 6:25 p.m.; Final: 8:50 p.m.

Olympic semi-finalist Sekou Kaba of Ottawa races in the International men’s 60-metre hurdles. Kaba took away a lot from Rio, “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that it’s impossible for others to achieve your goals for you. They are yours for a reason. Chase them until you’ve exhausted all options.” When asked about his 2017 goals, “Stay healthy so I can continue to chip away at my next objective of being a major championship finalist.” The Canadian faces a talented international field including 2012 Olympians Greggmar Swift of USA, Eddie Lovett of the US Virgin Islands, and 2016 World Indoor fifth place finisher, Spencer Adams of USA.

International Women’s Pole Vault - 6:45 p.m.

The trio of pole vaulters who represented Canada last summer at the Olympic Games in Rio will all jump in Montreal. Alysha Newman of Delaware, Ont., recently raised the Canadian indoor record with a clearance of 4.65-metres. Newman recently placed second at the New Balance Boston Grand Prix and was fourth at the Millrose Games. Kelsie Ahbe was Canada’s top placer in Rio reaching the final and finishing 12th. Battling Newman and Ahbe for the win will be thier Rio teammate Annika Newell. Newell, who competed for Texas State, achieved a personal best last year of 4.50-metres. American Kayla Caldwell should also be in the mix come Saturday.

International Women’s 60-metres - Round 1: 7:00 p.m.; Final: 9:10 p.m.

Canadian Olympic 4x100-metres relay team members Crystal Emmanuel Pickering, Ont., and Farah Jacques of Gatineau, Que., will race in the International women’s 60-metres. Along with the relay, Emmanuel represented Canada in the 100 and 200-metre dashes in Rio. Challenging the Canadian Olympians will be Joanna Atkins, Alexis Faulkner and Tawanna Meadows of the USA.

International Men’s 60-metres - Round 1: 7:05 p.m.; Final: 9:20 p.m.

Last summer, Akeem Haynes of Calgary stepped onto the podium and received an Olympic bronze medal along with his 4x100-metres relay teammates. Along with the Canadian record breaking relay, Haynes represented Canada in the 100-metres at the Olympics. He will face a fast field of American competitors including John Teeters and Tevin Hester. Shavez Hart of the Bahamas recently set a personal best of 6.60 seconds and should challenge the field.

Para Ambulatory Women’s 200-metres - 7:40 p.m.

Marissa Papaconstantinou (T44) of Toronto who represented Canada at the 2016 Paralympic Games will take on a pair of para ambulatory athletes over 200-metres. Papaconstantinou was a finalist in Rio. Larissa Brown (T12) of Greely, Ont., and guide runner Andrew Heffernan and T46 classified athlete Shanna Boutilier of Ottawa, Ont., look to challenge Papacontanstinou for the win. Papaconstantinou will also race in the International 60-metres. 

International Men’s Shot Put - 7:55 p.m.

A combination of speed and power will be on display when Tim Nedow of Brockville, Ont., enters the shot put ring Saturday evening. Nedow, a 2016 Olympian and seventh place finisher at the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships will be looking to get his 2017 season off to a good start. Dylan Armstrong’s Canadian record of 21.39-metres is no easy task, but if there’s a Canadian with a chance to give the record a scare, it’s Nedow. His stiffest competition will come in the form of Chuk Enekwechi of Nigeria. Enekwechi has a personal best of 20.45-metres, and a seasonal best performance to date of 20.32-metres.

International Women’s 400-metres - 8:30 p.m.

Alicia Brown of Ottawa is helping lead a resurgence of Canadian long sprinters. Along with racing the individual 400-metres at the Rio Olympics, Brown ran a strong leg on the 4x400-metres that finished a very respectable fourth place. Nigerian Olympians Regina George and Margaret Bamgbose are talented quarter-milers that will provide a solid challenge.

International Women’s Mile Pursuit - 8:40 p.m.

With the leader of laps three and on earning prize money, it will be interesting to see how the women’s mile pursuit plays out. Erin Teschuk of Winnipeg represented Canada in Rio in the 3000-metres steeplechase. Teschuk looks strong coming off a personal best of 9:05.65 last weekend in Seattle. A bronze medallist in the 1500-metres at the 2015 Pan American Games, Sasha Gollish of Toronto has been proficient in a range of distances. Since her podium finish in Toronto, she has shown her strength running fast 5000-metres and half marathon races. We’ll have to wait and see how this translates to the pursuit. Middle distance specialist Annie Leblanc of Repentigny, Que., is a strong 800 and 1500-metres runner and has recently been training with Melissa Bishop. We’ll see what the local favourite has in store over the mile. Alexa Efraimson of the USA has personal bests of 2:00.99/4:03.39 for the 800/1500-metres, she will definitely be in the hunt for a share of the prize money.

International Men’s 1200-metres Pursuit - 9:30 p.m.

With a field representing a variety of track distances, the men’s 1200-metres pursuit should be an intriguing event to cap off the Grand Prix d’Athlétisme de Montréal. There’s prize money on the line for the leader of each lap. 3-time Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner of the USA will need to rely on his 400-metres speed, and 800-metres specialist Ryan Martin of the USA will look to stretch out his range in order to win a few extra dollars. Local favourite, and 2016 Olympic semi-finalist, Charles Philibert-Thiboutot of Quebec is in fine early season form recently placing fourth in the Wannamaker Mile and setting a new indoor mile Quebec record. Philibert-Thiboutot will need to rely on his strength when battling Wariner and Martin. Former beer mile world record holder Lewis Kent of Mississauga, Ont., will do his best to hang with this talented field.

For more information about the Grand Prix d’Athlétisme de Montréal, visit www.indoors.athletics.ca and follow @AthleticsCanada on  Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, & Snapchat.

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