Category Archives: Athletics

Canada’s speed skaters under-promised and over-delivered

(January 22) – A delayed and condensed long-track season opened today in the Netherlands, where skaters are bubbled for two World Cup meets and the Feb. 11-14 world championships. Continue reading

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The Tokyo Olympics are still on (for now)

Japanese protestor holding an anti-Olympics sign. (Getty Images)

How 80 per cent of people in Japan feel, according to a recent poll | Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images

By Jesse Campigotto

(January 22) – The Tokyo Olympics are still on (for now) There’s a lot of talk right now about the Tokyo Olympics possibly being cancelled. If you’re confused about what exactly happened and what it means, here it is: Continue reading

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This Day. Simon Whitfield surprised everyone by winning the first-ever Olympic men’s triathlon

Canada's Simon Whitfield, right, currently second place to an unseen runner, leads Simon Lessing of Great Britain in the run leg in the men's Olympic triathlon across from the Sydney Opera House, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2000. (Rick Rycroft/The Associated Press)

Canada’s Simon Whitfield, right, currently second place to an unseen runner, leads Simon Lessing of Great Britain in the run leg in the men’s Olympic triathlon across from the Sydney Opera House, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2000 | Rick Rycroft/The Associated Press

Australians dominated the sport heading into the 2000 Sydney Olympics. That’s one of the reasons why triathlon was added to the program for their home Games, and why the women’s and men’s events were scheduled for the first two days of competition (Sept. 16 and 17). They were supposed to help get the host country fired up.

Meanwhile, no one expected much from the 25-year-old Whitfield, who’d never won a top-level international race. Except for Whitfield. Fuelled by borderline-irrational confidence, a nothing-to-lose mentality and just plain old guts, he hung around during the swim and bike stages and then made his big move in the closing 10-km run — his specialty. His thrilling finishing kick for the upset gold-medal win is one of the great moments in Canadian Olympic history. And he went on to add a silver with another gutsy, exciting run eight years later in Beijing. Read more about how Whitfield won gold in Sydney in his own words (and the words of other key figures involved) in this oral history by CBC Sports’ Myles Dichter with video by Steve Tzemis.

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This Day. Tom Longboat Day

June 4 is Tom Longboat Day, which recognizes the life and career of one of the best distance runners to ever represent Canada. Winner of the 1907 Boston Marathon, Longboat is remembered for both his athletic achievements and innovative training methods. From the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve near Brantford, ON, Longboat faced racism and prejudice throughout his career, including being called lazy by the press and fellow competitors over his training schedule.

By introducing regular rest into his regime, however, Longboat had a competitive advantage over other runners, who believed that they had to train at maximum effort all the time. He had a better understanding of how to train for long races and, as a result, he was fresher and better prepared than his competitors. This served him well during his career as he was known for his strong finishing sprints.

In 1951, the Tom Longboat Awards were established to recognize Indigenous athletes for outstanding contributions to sport in Canada. In the new book Reclaiming Tom Longboat: Indigenous Self-Determination in Canadian Sport, Janice Forsyth explores the history of the awards and their place within the broader history of Canadian policy and Crown-Indigenous relations. The book looks at how sport has been part of colonization in Canada while at the same time it asks how it can be part of decolonization. Through both oral and textual sources, Professor Forsyth pushes the reader to think critically about sport’s role in Canada while also shedding light on an under-told story in Canadian sport history.

In this episode of the History Slam, I talk with Professor Forsyth about the book. We talk about her experience as a winner of the award, the place of role models in sport, and the use of mainstream sports in colonization. We also talk about sport and culture, the media’s role in telling athletes’ stories, and traditional sport and games and their role in decolonization.

Sean Graham is a historian with Parks Canada, an Adjunct Professor at Carleton University, and a contributing editor with

History Slam Episode 149: Indigenous Self-Determination in Canadian Sport

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‘We are already more than a thousand to run or jog at home this Sunday, and they continue to add’

Elite Canadian sport federations have been brought to their knees by the pandemic. In contrast, Alberto Juantorena, president of the Cuban Athletics Federation, is convening an international virtual amateur race through social media.

Home race

ACN (April 17) – The virtual race called by the organizing committee of the Varadero Half Marathon, scheduled for this Sunday in Cuba, today registers nearly a thousand registered participants. Continue reading

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Those Superfast Nike shoes are creating a problem

The people who oversee track and field have to give serious thought to how much running-shoe technology is too much |

Wearing a controversial Nike shoe, Eliud Kipchoge, the marathon world-record holder, broke the event’s two-hour barrier last weekend | Leonhard Foeger/Reuters

(October 18) – Last weekend’s extraordinary marathon performances — 1 hour 59 minutes 40 seconds by Eliud Kipchoge in Vienna and 2:14:04 by Brigid Kosgei in Chicago — have focused attention on an already simmering question: Does the International Association of Athletics Federations need a more stringent rule to define legal running shoes?

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Eliud Kipchoge makes history by running sub two-hour marathon

  • Kenyan runs unofficial time of 1hr 59min 40sec in Vienna
  • World record holder was assisted by 41 pacemakers and lasers


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Why some Canadians are watching tennis

Bianca Andreescu, 19, is the first teenager to reach the semifinals of the women’s tournament since Caroline Wozniacki in 2009 | Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

On Wednesday night, 15th-seeded Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Canada celebrated her comeback 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 quarterfinal victory over Elise Mertens. Ms Andreescu was in disbelief. She’d never even played a main-draw match at the raucous U.S. Open until this year.

“A year ago, I was in the qualifying round. I remember I was suffering from a back injury, and now what I’ve accomplished this year, I’m honestly speechless,” she said. “I need someone to pinch me right now. Is this real life? Is this real life?”

Ms Andreescu will face the former teen prodigy Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, 13th-seeded, in the semifinals of the tournament on Thursday night.

Until recently, Canada has had a deficit of tennis players who could meet global standards consistently. Only two Canadians have reached a Grand Slam singles final before: Genie Bouchard and Milos Raonic (at Wimbledon in 2014 and 2016, respectively). They both lost, and neither has won a tournament as big as the Rogers Cup — much less Indian Wells, both won by Ms Andreescu. Daniel Nestor won eight Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal in doubles.

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Swimming Australia’s glass house comes crashing down with positive doping samples

Swimming Australia chief executive Leigh Russell speaks to the media in Melbourne after Shayna Jack’s positive doping samples | William West/AFP/Getty Images

(July 30) – If only the world championships ended as well as it started for the swimmers from Down Under.

The much-vaunted Australian squad had an impressive but controversial beginning on the opening day of the swimming program — an upset win by 18-year-old Ariarne Titmus over three-time 400-meter freestyle champion American Kate Ledecky. Continue reading

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Sotomayor and the anniversary of his records

2018 marks 25 years since Javier Sotomayor became the world high jump record holder | Oscar Sánchez Serra

(November 16) – To simply stand before a bar placed at a height of 2.45 metres is nothing extraordinary. However, to jump over it using nothing more than the take-off power of one’s own legs is unprecedented, that is, at least, for all but one man. The only mortal to have flown this high is Cuban, and this 2018 he is celebrating 25 years as high jump world record holder. Continue reading

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