Track and field competitions are set to take centre stage on Sunday October 23 at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. The Canadian team, a healthy mix of up and coming and veteran athletes, will first hit the track and take to the field on day two (Oct 24) of athletics competition. “The 2011 Pan American Games represent an important stepping stone for many who have been selected to prove their abilities by competing and winning internationally in a Games environment,” said team head coach Les Gramantik.
Wasting no time in getting underway, Monday will see three Canadian athletes in a position to challenge for medals. Sultana Frizell of Perth, Ont., Crystal Smith from Creston, B.C., and Victoria Robson of Winnipeg, Man., will all compete in finals. Frizell and Smith in the women’s hammer throw final and Robson in the women’s pole vault final.16-year old Christian Brennan from Waterdown, Ont., has enjoyed a phenomenal season. This summer at the Canadian Senior Championships in Calgary, at the age of 15, Brennan won bronze in both the 200 and 400-metres. At the World Youth Championships in July she won silver medals in the 200-metres and 400-metres and won bronze as a member of the medley relay team. Christian also broke three Canadian Records at World Youths in France. The grade 11 student from St. Mary Catholic Secondary School will compete in the women’s 400-metres and 4×400-metres in Mexico.
19-year old Tremaine Harris of Markham, Ont., is another star in the making looking to take the next step in his young career. Harris won the Canadian title in the men’s 400-metres at this summer’s Canadian Senior Championships, finished second as part of the 4×100-metres relay team at the 2011 Pan American Junior Championships and also ran as a member of Team Canada in the 4×400-metres at the Penn Relays in April. Tremaine also competed in three National Track League competitions finishing second twice and winning one. Harris will line up in the 400-metres semis on Tuesday afternoon with aspirations of making the final.
Dylan Armstrong of Kamloops, B.C., the reigning Pan American Games champion in the men’s shot put, is looking for nothing short of gold in Guadalajara to close out an already impressive 2011 season. Armstrong’s season highlights include a new Canadian record of 22.21-metres set at the Canadian Championships, a mark which still stands as the world’s season leading performance. At the World Championships in South Korea he won silver and he took the shot put title in the prestigious Diamond League series.
Veteran leadership will also come from two-time Pan American Games veteran Angela Whyte of Edmonton, Alta. Whyte is on the hunt for her second career Pan Am Games medal after taking bronze in 2007. Her first experience at this event was in 2003 where she placed fifth.