By: Jonathan Yue
The new track is in place at Varsity Stadium. The athletes have arrived in Toronto. Warm ups have begun. All that is left to do is begin the competition. The NACAC Championships in Toronto are set to begin tomorrow, and continue through to Sunday August 12.
- Tickets and more information on the event can be found here.
Hometown athlete, Justyn Knight, who began running at Varsity Stadium as a high school runner is especially excited to get going.
“Being able to come home and just being able to put on a show for my family, my friends, and fans that I’ve kind of developed over the years throughout my career is amazing and hoping I can compete well,” says Knight, who attended high school at St. Michael’s College School right down the street from Varsity Stadium. “It’s bringing me back to my high school days, I think looking back it might have been a young Justyn’s dream to come back to this stadium to compete at an international meet. Varsity Stadium is just home.”
Knight isn’t the only hometown athlete ready to compete in front of the Canadian fans. He was joined at the official NACAC Championship press conference by Aaron Brown (Toronto, Ont.) and Kate Van Buskirk (Brampton, Ont.).
For Van Buskirk, this is her tenth time representing Canada at the national level and she’s seeing the excitement from around the team.
“There’s a lot of good energy on our team. This is a fairly diverse team and we do have a number of us that have been in the sport for a long time, in our late 20s, early 30s who have a lot of combined experience,” Van Buskirk says. “But there are a whole bunch of athletes whom this is their first national team so there is a really notable excitement at the hotel right now.”
Also in attendance was six-time Olympic medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce from Jamaica and world record holder in the 100-metre hurdles Kendra Harrison from the United States. Both were ready to go and excited for the championships to get started.
After taking the 2017 season away, Fraser-Pryce is coming off a season’s best time of 10.98 in the 100-metres at the London Muller Anniversary Games. She’s happy to be back racing well on the track, and this time, with a new inspiration.
“I’m really excited about the things that I do now on the track because I realize there’s a little person waiting to hear what mommy’s doing and I’m such a role model to him and I want him to know, in the future, you can be fearless,” Fraser-Pryce says. “He continues to inspire me every day because I’m so happy I took the time off and spent time with my son. He gives me that extra motivation.”
The athletes are excited to start and put on a show for the Canadian fans in attendance. Action gets underway Friday, August 10, at 10:15am with the start of the men’s long jump qualifiers followed by the men’s 100m qualification round.