By: Jonathan Yue
Crystal Emmanuel couldn’t believe she still had energy by the end of day three, capping off her 2018 NACAC Championships weekend by adding another two medals to her weekend haul.
After winning the bronze in the women’s 100-metres on day two, Emmanuel added the silver medal in the 200-metres, running a season’s best time of 22.67 seconds. Before the day was over, she would team up with Shaina Harrison, Phylicia George and Jellisa Westney for the women’s 4x100-metre relay, winning bronze in a time of 43.50 seconds.
“I thought my body would have been broken down, but I feel pretty amazing right now,” Emmanuel said. “Everybody’s been so supportive, being able to feed off that energy, and being able to bring back a medal for our country is a great feeling,” Westney added.
On the men’s side, sprinter Aaron Brown will leave these championships with a silver in the men’s 200-metre as well as a gold medal in the men’s 4x100-metre relay. For Brown, Jerome Blake, Bismark Boateng and Mobolade Ajomale, it was about taking in the experience together.
“To get the win with the guys in the 4x100 I’m really proud of that, proud of how they stepped up, a lot of them haven’t run in a championship meet so it’s great experience for them, giving them the confidence heading to 2020, we’re feeling pretty good,” Brown said.
For Boateng and Blake, it was an opportunity to bounce back after just missing the podium in the men’s 100-metres and 200-metres. For Ajomale, it was his first race at these championships and he was up for the challenge.
“The relay actually means more to me than the individual because that’s where I’ve gotten my experience on the national team,” Boateng said. “I was anxious [coming into the race], but getting out here I knew what I had to do.”
Hometown athlete in every sense of the term, Gabriela Stafford captured the 1500-metre bronze medal in a season’s best time of 4:07.36 minutes, behind Americans Kate Grace (4:06.23) and Shannon Osika (4:06.92). All three medalists would break the previous stadium record of 4:08.34 set by Canadian Kate Van Buskirk.
In the men’s 1500-metre, Charles Philibert-Thiboutot earned a bronze medal of his own, running a time of 3:52.60 minutes. Although it was a slower time, Philibert-Thiboutot still took the time to celebrate with the audience, waving the Canadian flag as he ran down the straightaway.
“All these people, they come out here to cheer on us, so I was more than happy to take the Canadian flag and go in front of the stands for them to cheer,” Philibert-Thiboutot said. “I’ll let it sink in now because I really enjoyed it.”
In field events, Shawnacy Barber jumped to a silver medal in the men’s pole vault, jumping a height of 5.40-metres, tying the previous stadium record which was then broken by Scott Houston of the United States. Houston won the gold medal with a jump of 5.45-metres. Houston’s clearance would also earn him a new championships record, which was previously 5.15-metres.
In the middle of a long season for Barber, he feels that he’s still been able to stay fresh throughout the season to come up with the silver.
“I didn’t start my season in the greatest form, but you make yourself go out there and compete, like three meets in five days and it really sharpens up your fitness,” Barber said. “I’ve had the chance to take the last two weeks off and now I’ll go to Europe and hopefully get into some good rhythms.”
The world-leader in the men’s discus, Federick Dacres of Jamaica would shatter the championship (60.68-metres) and stadium (56.14-metres) records for the gold medal in the men’s discus. Dacres would need his last throw of the competition but it paid off with a huge throw of 68.47-metres for the win and record.
Caroline Ehrhardt in the women’s triple jump, Rachel Andres in the women’s javelin, and the men’s 4x400-metre relay team would just miss the podium in their events, all finishing their championships with hard-fought jumps, throws and races for fourth place finishes.
The women’s 4x400-metre relay closed the championships and Canada gave their home crowd a memorable finish. The women’s team of Micha Powell, Aiyanna Stiverne, Travia Jones, and Alicia Brown worked together to win bronze, bringing the grandstand to their feet one last time during the NACAC Championships.
“Alicia said ‘have fun’ right before we got onto the track, and being able to make my mom proud, our friends proud that was all I was thinking about,” Powell said. “It’s always super exciting to be able to race in front of a home crowd so the excitement was really high, the race was so much fun, something magical happens when we have the baton in our hands,” Brown added.
With the NACAC Championships at Varsity Stadium in Toronto, Ont., coming to an end, Canada won a total of 21 medals. Canadian athletes like Shawnacy Barber can’t wait to see what’s next in track and field in Canada.
“Athletics is definitely on an up-trend and I’m very excited to see where it goes next.”
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