LANGLEY, BC – On a sweltering day in Langley, it was the 100-meter final that headlined the show. For the first time in his career, Aaron Brown, 30, won a 100m Canadian Championship gold medal in front of his son as he strives toward the World Championships in Eugene, Ore., next month.
While the men’s 100m nightcap stole the focus, it was a banner day for U SPORTS athletes, medaling across the board and pushing their way close to the 100m podium. The main stories came from the 1500m race, the 100m, and the men’s high jump/
U SPORTS shines in the senior 1500m
The women’s 1,500m final saw an abundance of U SPORTS athletes take centre stage, striving toward the podium. As a result, 12 athletes punched their ticket to the final, with the top four in each heat and the next best four times earning a chance to race Saturday.
With a dry temperature rising to 32 degrees celsius mid-day in Langley, the conditions weren’t perfect for everyone, but they fit some athletes.
“I love the heat; it feels gross, though,” Saskatchewan Huskie and 2019 FISU bronze medalist Courtney Hufsmith said. “It can be a bit of an advantage for me, I guess.”
Hufsmith finished outside the top four in her heat but claimed a spot in the final as the 12th best time from the preliminaries.
Tokyo 2020 Olympians Natalia Hawthrone (UBC) and Lucia Stafford (U of Toronto) finished first and second with times of 4:14.58 and 4:20.10, while Kate Current (Western), the 2022 U SPORTS Champion in the distance, finished third in 4:14.79.
The final features five U SPORTS athletes, including Natalia Hawthorne, Lucia Stafford, Courtney Hufsmith, Glynis Sim (UBC), and Holly McGillvary (UBC)
Sunday’s afternoon final will feature more impending heat, favouring those who have raced in strenuous conditions, such as the Tokyo 2020 Olympians or Hufsmith, who ran to FISU bronze in Naples.
York’s Khamica Bingham wins 100m gold
It was supposed to be Andre De Grasse’s event — he’s on the banners outside the stadium, after all. Instead, his absence provided the perfect stage for Canadian Olympians Aaron Brown and Jerome Blake to duke it out for gold.
In the semi-final, Brown ran a season’s best 10.07 seconds, only to be topped by Blake, running a 10.00.
Nine former Canadian university athletes took on the semi-finals, with former UBC Thunderbird Stephen Abosi winning his heat in 10.32 seconds. Meanwhile, none of the U SPORTS athletes advanced.
On the women’s side, former York Lion Khamica Bingham captured the gold medal, winning the semifinals, before winning the Canadian Championship final with a time of 11.36. While it wasn’t a personal best time for the 2x Olympian, she will have a chance later this season when she takes on the World Championships.
Toronto’s Kelly wins 800m Canadian title
The women’s 800m race could not have been much closer. Former Toronto Varsity Blue Maddy Kelly took the gold medal with a near personal best time of 2:00.82, beating long-time rival Lindsey Butterworth by just three-hundredths of a second
In one of the few events where U SPORTS stood on top, Kelly did not meet the World standard with her time in the event but likely has enough ranking points to qualify for the World Championships in July.
Still, her rise towards last year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics and now Canadian Championship gold flowed through the OUA and U SPORTS.
“U of T was huge, I had very strong teammates in Lucia and Gabriela Stafford, and when you have those two, it shows you that you aren’t that good, you’re just okay, and it pushed me to be better,” she told 49 Sports after the race. “We had really good coaching, and that system really helped push me to be better.”
While she didn’t beat her personal best of 1:59.71, it was a race to remember for the 26-year-old ahead of a likely Canadian national team appearance at the World Championships.
Men’s high jump bronze for Eric Chatten
Local Olympian Django Lovett may have joined the competition later on, but he showed why he’s the world #5 with an easy win in the men’s high jump competition. Although the Langley native dominated the competition, the podium featured two U SPORTS athletes.
Former Guelph Gryphon Eric Chatten captured the silver medal, clearing 2.11m, while Lethbridge Pronghorn Noah Vanderzee jumped the same height to win the bronze medal.
While the result was a one-sided, skilled game from Canadian-born Lorenzo Insigne, and the rest of the roster. While Insigne is not eligible to represent Canada, his presence flows through lovers of the game.