World class track and field athletes convened at Foote Field on June 16 for the Donovan Bailey Invitational (DBI), but amongst the former Olympians and professional athletes, the University of Alberta was strongly represented.
The event itself — the largest event on Canada’s National Track League series — went off without a hitch this year, unlike last year’s inaugural DBI that was washed out due to an electrical storm. Underneath a clear sky, this year’s big winners included the current world 100 metre champion, Jamaica’s Yohan Blake, who won the international 100m sprint, and former Canadian Olympian Dylan Armstrong, who won the international men’s shot put competition.
Current U of A student-athlete Benjamin Williams competed in the national 100m dash, finishing in sixth place. Williams was up against professional sprinters, but wasn’t intimidated by his opposition.
“I expected a fast race and I got it. I don’t have a lot of experience, so this was great to compete in,” Williams said after his race. “It wasn’t intimidating at all because I know what I can do. You just have to go in there with confidence.”
The experience Williams gained from competing against the calibre of athletes on display at the DBI could be very beneficial to the team come the fall, when Williams goes back to competing against other CIS athletes.
“This is something that will help me a lot because these guys are more experienced than I am,” Williams said. “It’s just something that I have to do over time, and over time I’ll get up to where they are at.”
U of A athlete and part-time student Carline Muir experienced even greater success in the 400 metre dash. Muir finished in second place, just more than a second shy of winner Jenna Martin. With her success at the DBI last weekend, if Muir continues to improve, she wil have a chance to compete at this summer’s Olympics in London. Her next event is the Canadian National Championships in Toronto on July 31.
Former U of A student-athlete Jaden Ostapowich had a more difficult day in the national 800 metre run. Ostapowich was one of the favourites to win going in to the race, but ended up trailing behind the leaders, finishing in ninth place. Ostapowich was not a student for the 2011-12 year and has applied to return to the U of A this fall, but it’s still unclear if he will return to the Golden Bears. Ostapowich was disappointed with his finish, but remained impressed with the level of competition at the event as a whole.
“I was expecting to hopefully come out and win, but I just didn’t have the legs today,” Ostapowich explained after his race. “It was good competition; it was a good race. The Canadian development is doing really well so it’s good to see a lot of people coming out and running fast.”
Panda alumnus Lindsey Bergevin finished in fourth place in the national women’s pole vault competition. She recently completed her eligibility last year, and in one of her first competitions since passing her eligibility, the former Canada West and CIS medalist against eventual winner Melanie Blouin.
Even though he only holds a loose connection to the U of A from his training at Foote Field, former Pan American Games gold medalist and Edmonton native Adam Kunkel was one of the most successful competitors, winning the 400 metre hurdle competition with a time of 50.54. Kunkel’s win means he’ll be riding high on his success as he heads into Calgary at the end of June for Olympic Trials in his goal to compete in the 2012 summer Olympics.
The remnants of chivalry still linger today, especially in the dating world.