The Road to Rio for Track and Field Athletes Starts in Edmonton

The deepest, most talented pool of Canadian track and field athletes ever is set to compete in Edmonton for Olympic and Paralympic berths to the Games in Rio de Janeiro.

EDMONTON – The Road to Rio de Janeiro is crowded with talented Canadians who will compete at the Canadian Track and Field Championships and Selection Trials this weekend to punch their tickets to the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

Led by sprinters Andre De Grasse and Aaron Brown, and 2015 world champions Shawn Barber (pole vault) and Derek Drouin (high jump), the lineup of athletes from July 7-10 at Foote Field may be the deepest and most talented ever at a Canadian Trials.

“The 2016 trials are shaping up to be the best in our history with more than 70 athletes entering with the Olympics standard, as well as 15 with the Paralympic standard,” said Peter Eriksson, Athletics Canada head coach and Chief Technical Officer. “The depth and level of competition will serve the athletes well as they enter their Rio final preparation phase.”

Story lines track and field fans can look forward to this weekend include:

  • De Grasse, Canada’s 2015 breakout sprint star, going head-to-head with Brown in the men’s 100- and 200-metre dashes. Brown had his own breakthrough this season, posting best times of 9.96 in the 100 metres and 20.00 in the 200 metres.
  • A high jump duel between Drouin, the 2015 world champion, and Mike Mason, who pushed his Canadian rival at last year’s Nationals at Foote Field.
  • Melissa Bishop, the 800-metre runner who won silver at the 2015 World’s, has twice run sub-1:59.00 times this season.
  • The 100-metre hurdles will be intensely competitive, with specialists Nikkita Holder and Phylicia George being pushed by heptathlete Brianne Theisen-Eaton.
  • Edmonton’s Angela Whyte also will be in the 100-metre hurdle mix. Whyte, whose first major international competition for Canada was the 2001 World Championships in Athletics at Commonwealth Stadium, has a serious shot at qualifying for her third Olympics at 36 years of age.
  • In the field events, talented javelin thrower Liz Gleadle is looking improve on her 11th-place finish at 2015 World’s. Long jumper Christabel Nettey was a strong fourth in Beijing in 2015.
  • All-around athletes Theisen-Eaton and Damian Warner (decathlon), both won silver medals at the 2015 World’s and brought home gold from the prestigious Hypo Meet in Gotzis, Austria in May.
  • Headlining the field of Paralympians is Guillaume Ouellet, who won gold in the 5,000 metres in the heat and humidity of Doha, Qatar at the 2015 IPC World Championships.
  • In wheelchair racing, look for Michelle Stilwell (T52 classification) and Diane Roy (T54 classification). Stilwell won gold and silver at the 2012 London Games and a pair of gold medals in Beijing 2008. Roy has won five Paralympic Games medals, as well as gold and bronze at the Para Pan Am Games in Toronto in 2015.
  • In wheelchair throws, Pamela LeJean and Becky Richter are IPC and Para Pan Am medalists.

If you can’t make it to Foote Field for the trials, has you covered with a free live webcast of the event, beginning Thursday at 11:00 a.m. MT / 1:00 p.m. ET. The webcast is also available through Athletics Canada’s new mobile app. For ticket information, fans should visit Tickets also can be purchased at the Foote Field box office.

Check into the Athletics Canada website for updates.

Background on the Athletes