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Athletics Canada selects 24 athletes to represent Canada at the 2019 NACAC and IAAF World Cross Country Championships

Geneviève Lalonde and Lucas Bruchet to lead one of Canada’s most competitive cross country teams in recent history

Ottawa – Athletics Canada announced today the 24 athletes who have been selected to represent Canada at the 2019 NACAC Cross Country Championships (Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago) and 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships (Aarhus, Denmark) set to take place on Feb. 16 and March 30, respectively. Both events will feature men’s and women’s races in the U20 and senior divisions.

Of the 24 Canadian athletes, only four – Evan Esselink, Rory Linkletter, Brogan MacDougall and Claire Sumner – took part in the NACAC and IAAF World Cross Country Championships in 2017 that saw Canada win team gold in both women’s events, silver in the senior men’s division and bronze in the U20 men’s category at the NACAC Championships.

The 2019 squad, arguably one of the strongest cross country teams in Canadian history, will be led by newly crowned Canadian champion Geneviève Lalonde and three-time national cross country champion Lucas Bruchet.

“I had so much fun running with an incredible field at the Canadian Championships and was fortunate to have help early in the race,” said Lalonde who hasn’t competed in cross country in nearly five years. “We have a phenomenal team heading to NACAC and Worlds, and if we all have great races and work together we can accomplish something special.”

When asked what it’s like to represent Canada, she said “every time I put on that singlet, it’s like it’s the first time all over again. It feels almost like putting on a superhero suit. All of a sudden you have a responsibility to be incredible and to represent your country with pride and honour.”

“After missing some time in the summer, I felt that I had to prove to myself that I can still compete with Canada’s best. You never know how the return to training and competition can go after a significant amount of time off. Defending my title validated all of the hard work I’ve put in over the last few months,” said Bruchet, one of the most experienced cross country runners on the team.

He went on to say, “I’m looking forward to competing in Denmark. I have a feeling that it’s going to be a tough course with a lot of mud, which is similar to Kingston. I know that plays well for me and I think I have the opportunity to do something special. I know the Africans tend to have a stranglehold on the Top 20, but I will be working my butt off to try and break in there and to finish well. There is something magical about pulling the Canadian singlet over the shoulders. Nothing beats it and I can’t wait.”

Headlining the Canadian U20 team is MacDougall – she’s no stranger to cross country and has won both individual and team titles at major international events – and Evan Burke, the newly minted Canadian U18 3000-metres record holder (8:14.99 set at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games).

“Coming off the season on such a high, it’s important to come back down to reality as soon as possible and to get ready for the next training block,” said MacDougall when asked about what lies ahead. “If training goes to plan, a medal – both individually and as a team – at the NACAC Championships is my goal. As for the World Championships, I’d like to improve upon my finish from 2017 and medal as a team. A Top 3 finish is not out of the question and will provide a great amount of motivation as I tackle the next couple of months.”

When asked about what it feels like to don the maple leaf, MacDougall echoed Lalonde’s comments saying “when you put on that singlet you feel invincible, like a superhero. I love performing well as team. This Canadian team is coming on strong and we should not be overlooked.”

Evan Burke, the youngest athlete on the Canadian team, had an outstanding 2018 season on the track that translated into great results in cross country (gold at OFSSA and AOs, bronze in the U20 race at nationals). “Physically going into these two events, I will have a rest period, focusing on indoor track for speed and also balance longer distances so I can race a great 8-kilometre. My coach, Dave Mills, is amazing at preparing me for any race and ensuring that I peak at the right time,” said Burke. “I never thought I could race 8:14 in Buenos Aires after only four track workouts and focusing mainly on cross country. I strongly believe in my coach to get me to where I need to be when the time comes for these Championships. I’ll approach these races like I do with every race; believe in myself and my training, and go in with an open mind and no limits.”

“Not long ago it seemed like such a reach to imagine myself representing Canada and competing on the world stage. Now, this will be my third opportunity to do so. I am so grateful for each and every opportunity; it is such an awesome experience,” said Burke.

The 24-member squad was selected based on their performance at the 2018 Canadian Cross Country Championships – the largest in Athletics Canada history with more than 1,100 athletes competing in Kingston – or, in the case of the senior men and women, by achieving an average Top 32 world ranking standard in the qualifying period.

More information on the 2019 NACAC Cross Country Championships is available at www.athleticsnacac.org, while additional information pertaining to the 2019 IAAF World Cross Country Championships can be found at www.iaaf.org.

Canada’s 2019 National Cross Country Team:

U20 Women

Name

Hometown

Personal Coach

Club

Makenna Fitzgerald

Kamloops, B.C.

Brant Stachel

Physi-KULT

Anne Forsyth

London, Ont.

Mike McGuire

Speed River Track and Field Club

Brogan MacDougall

Kingston, Ont.

Steve Boyd

Physi-KULT

Taryn O’Neill

Kelowna, B.C.

Malindi Elmore

Okanagan Athletics Club

Maggie Smith

Halifax, N.S.

Rich Lehman

HaliFAST Athletics

Charlotte Wood

Bracebridge, Ont.

Sean Cleary

Central Ontario Rogues

U20 Men

Name

Hometown

Personal Coach

Club

Evan Burke

London, Ont.

Dave Mills

London Western Track and Field Club

Andrew Davies

Sarnia, Ont.

Dave Scarrow

Windsor Legion Track and Field Club

Joshua Desouza

Brampton, Ont.

Derek Hackshaw

Newmarket Huskies Track Club

Ibrahim Kedir

Toronto, Ont.

Thomas Peterson

Phoenix Athletics

Nicolas Mota

Newmarket, ON

Derek Hackshaw

Newmarket Huskies Track Club

Maximus Thiessen

Calgary, Alta.

Doug Lamont

University of Calgary Athletics Club

Senior Women

Name

Hometown

Personal Coach

Club

Katelyn Ayers

Orillia, Ont.

Dave Scott-Thomas

Speed River Track and Field Club

Geneviève Lalonde

Moncton, N.B.

Dave Scott-Thomas

Speed River Track and Field Club

Jessica O’Connell

Calgary, Alta.

Mike Van Tighem

University of Calgary Athletics Club

Andrea Seccafien

Guelph, Ont.

Nic Bideau

Monarch Athletics

Claire Sumner

Calgary, Alta.

Steve Boyd

Physi-KULT

Natasha Wodak

North Vancouver, B.C.

Lynn Kanuka

Prairie Inn Harriers Running Club

Senior Men

Name

Hometown

Personal Coach

Club

Lucas Bruchet

White Rock, B.C.

Richard Lee

Vancouver Thunderbirds Track & Field Club

Ehab El-Sandali

Toronto, Ont.

Gary Westgate

Toronto West Athletics Running Club

Evan Esselink

Courtice, Ont.

Richard Lee

Unattached

Rory Linkletter

Calgary, Alta.

Ed Eyestone

Unattached

Benjamin Preisner

Milton, Ont.

Steve Gulley/Taylor Gulley

Unattached

Mike Tate

Heatherton, N.S.

Dave Scott-Thomas

Speed River Track and Field Club

-end-

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