Connaughton off to Olympics
Jared Connaughton, from New Haven, P.E.I., celebrates as
he crosses the finish line after winning the 200m final at
the Canadian Track and Field Trials in Windsor, Ont. Sunday.
Canadian Press photo
He’s going to the Olympic Summer Games in Beijing, China.
“I’ve been dreaming of this day for a long, long time,’’ Jared Connaughton told The Guardian in a cellphone interview after winning the gold medal Sunday in the men’s 200m sprint at the Canadian track and field championships and Olympic trials.
“It feels good.’’
Connaughton did it with a personal best 20.34 seconds to beat the B standard he needed and earn his Olympic nomination.
He will almost certainly be named to the relay team when the Olympic teams are formally unveiled today.
Neil Connaughton said he’s never been more proud of his son.
“It’s the most unbelievable feeling you can imagine,’’ said Neil, who was in Windsor to watch his son qualify for Beijing. “Today, Jared solidified himself as one of the greatest 200-metre runners in Canadian history.’’
Souris’ Kurt McCormack finished 10th in the men’s triple jump but did not qualify for the Olympic Games.
Jared Connaughton is the second Islander to qualify for the Beijing Olympic Games. Kara Grant was named to the Canadian modern penthalon team last month.
Jared Connaughton’s performance was historic for other reasons as well.
He broke the track record at the Windsor stadium and established a new benchmark for the Canadian track and field championships.
His goal in Beijing?
“I want to be a finalist. I’m physically and mentally capable . . . I’m ready for that.’’
Running to Beijing
Jared Connaughton of New Haven, P.E.I., runs in the 200-metre heats at the Canadian track and field trials in Windsor, Ont., Sunday. His result means Connaughton will head to the Olympic Games in Beijing this summer. The Island runner set a new mark for the Canadian track and field trials. Canadian Press photo
Jared Connaughton has landed a spot on Canada's Olympic team for the Games in Beijing in August, despite facing what some would consider serious training challenges as he developed his talent.
'I trained on soccer fields, I trained on gravel tracks, I trained on sand dunes.'— Jared Connaughton
Connaughton won the 200-metre Canadian title at the Olympic qualifying meet in Windsor, Ont., on the weekend with a time of 20.34 seconds, a new Canadian record. The previous record of 20.40 seconds was set in 1986 by Atlee Mahorn.
Connaughton's home of Charlottetown is an unlikely spot for the development of sprinters. There is no real tradition of track and field in the province, and no proper training facilities for athletes interested in the sport.
"I trained on soccer fields, I trained on gravel tracks, I trained on sand dunes. At the time I didn't know any different," Connaughton told CBC News.
"I wanted to run fast and I believed I could be an Olympian one day, and I'm a month away from that."
One of Connaughton's main training tracks was a school hallway, about 150 metres long, at Charlottetown's Holland College. He did have one early advantage. One of his first coaches was Dave (Eli) MacEachern, the Island's only gold-medal Olympian, who won the bobsleigh in 1998.
Connaughton is no longer training on P.E.I. He now works in Texas in some of the best facilities in the world.
Canada's Olympic coach calls him one of the brightest young stars on the team. Sprinting was once a highlight of Canada's Olympic squad, and Connaughton believes this year's team could surprise some people.
"A lot of people say this group of sprinters aren't quite what it used to be, but I think we're out here to prove that wrong," he said.
The official announcement of Canada's Olympic track and field team will be made Monday.