By Paul Gains, CBC Sports
Charlottetown's Jared Connaughton blazed the curve in the men’s 200 metre final and ran away with the Canadian championship on Friday night at the University of Toronto.
The veteran sprinter recorded a time of 20.66 seconds to beat defending champion Bryan Barnett in convincing fashion. The 23-year-old from Edmonton could manage only 21.02 for the silver medal.
The newly crowned champion had said earlier this week he was in his best shape ever and prepared to challenge Atlee Mahorn's long standing record of 20.17 at the distance.
It wasn’t to be. The newly laid track, he said, was not as fast as he expected.
"It’s a little bit soft," said Connaughton. "I was hoping to run fast. I am really capable of it. I was hoping to challenge the Canadian record, it wasn’t happening today but I will get it. "If it’s not this year it will be in the next couple of years."
"I got a really good start and it sets me up well but then I get a little bit anxious and back off too much," he added. "If I just dial it in on the curve and run like I know I can 20.66 can be 20.36. I had the race in control by 50 metres."
Following the championships, Connaughton will head home for a two week break in P.E.I. before joining Barnett and other members of the Canadian sprint relay team in Germany for a training camp. The team will race in the Zurich and Brussels IAAF Diamond League meets.
In the women’s triple jump, Tabia Charles came very close to matching her Canadian record with a leap of 13.94 metres, just five centimetres less than the mark she set earlier this season.
Wearing flowers in her hair and fishnet stockings, Charles dominated the competition as second place went to Neb Zachariah with a distance of 12.41.
Charles was in a cheerful mood following the medal ceremony.
"It could have been perfect conditions but they had us jump into a negative wind, which I have never seen before, but we do things differently in Canada," she said, laughing. "But it was good, I could have gone 14. I felt awesome."
Three years ago Adam Kunkel made the 400 metre hurdles final at the 2007 world championships in Osaka but pulled up with a hamstring strain. Since then he has not been healthy.
Kunkel had an easy time winning the first of two semifinals on Friday in a time of 52.54 seconds.
"It's been a good year with my new coach Anthony McCleary," Kunkel says. "He’s done a good job getting me healthy so I can handle long days of training. It’s nice just to get through a few races healthy without any hiccups like in the past few years. I am now training consistently and I am hoping to put in a few good performances before the year is out."
Kunkel said his goal on Saturday is to get as close to 50 seconds as possible.
The men’s 3,000 steeplechase came down to a duel between training partners based out of Guelph, Ont., Rob Watson and Alex Genest. Watson — who represented Canada at the 2009 world championships in Berlin — set the early pace, stringing the field out single file.
But with a kilometre remaining Genest surged and eventually caught his friend. Genest’s winning time was 8:36.11, while Watson barely hung onto second place in 8:44.43. The bronze medal went to Travis McKay of Edmonton in a time of 8:45.12.
"I was totally confident in catching him," said Genest, who calls Lac Aux Sables, Que., home. "The thing is we train together and we know each other pretty well. Today I just wanted to race. I have had a pretty bad season. I need to be healthy all year long that is my big problem now. My Achilles tendon has bothered me for the past three years. I know I can run in the 8:20’s, I just need to be healthy."