Sunday, June 3, 2012

Handicapping Reid's Chances for Canada's Olympic Team

Countdown to Calgary: Women's 5000m
Friday, June 1, 2012 2:21 PM ET

For some of Canada’s top athletes, the Canadian Track and Field Trials are the final step towards qualifying for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Each week, looks at some of the names to keep an eye on as we count down to the Trials in Calgary from June 27-30.

DISCIPLINE: Women’s 5000m


*The IAAF allows a maximum of three athletes per country per event if the three athletes have each reached an A standard time.

Megan Wright – Edmonton, AB
Sheila Reid – Newmarket, ON

The Women’s 5000m is one of the more interesting qualifications heading into Trials.

In the simplest scenario, both Wright and Reid would run either an A+ standard time (14:56.94) or the A standard time (15:20.00) and finish top three in Calgary, giving them both a trip to London 2012.

As it stands, neither has eclipsed those times. Each has currently achieved a B standard (15:30.00).

The situation each woman is facing is different, based on their levels of experience. Wright, who already has one Olympics under her belt (Beijing 2008) , must run an A+ or A standard to meet Athletics Canada’s selection criteria. Reid, however, falls under Athletics Canada’s "Rising Star" designation because she has not competed at an Olympic Games or world championships. Provided no other runner meets the A+ or A standard, Reid can qualify for London 2012 with just two B standard times and the top three at Trials.

Wright, 30, is a four-time champion in the 5000m, and a nine-time NCAA All-American for West Virginia University. She also holds the Canadian Indoor record for the 5000m, winning the BU Valentine Invitational meet in 2011 in a time of 15:25.15. Her best time this year was at the Mt. Sac Relays in California, where she ran 15:21.75.

Wright advanced to the finals of the 5000m at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, qualifying with a personal best time of 15:11.23 in her heat. But she battled Achilles tendinopathy in the final – an injury that swells the tendon and makes it inflexible. Wright did well just to finish the race, finishing 15th, nearly two-minutes off her personal best time.

She will try to get her A standard time at the upcoming UBC Pre-Jerome Meet in Vancouver on June 8.

The 22-year-old Reid has starred at Villanova University. At the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships, she became the first ever women’s athlete to win both the 1500m and 5000m in the same year. She also captured both events at the Big East Championships. In all, she’s a four-time national champion, a nine-time All-American and an 11-time Big East Champion.

She set her personal best in the 5000m at this year’s Mt. Sac Relays, with a time of 15:23.64. Up next for Reid is the 2012 NCAA Championships, which run June 6-9 in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Beijing 2008 5000m race has been classified as one of the most bizarre races of those Games, as Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba captured gold with a time of 15:41.40 – a time which wouldn’t even qualify her for the Olympics this time around. It was also nearly 1:30 off her world record. Wright’s heat time was 30 seconds better than the gold medal winning time.

The fastest time in the world this year is by Kenya’s Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot, who ran 14:35.62 at Thursday’s Diamond League Golden Gala event in Rome. In fact, the top four times of the year were run at that race.

The Canadian record in the women’s 5000m is held by Courtney Babcock, who ran 14:54.98 at the 2003 World Championships in Paris, France. Any medal hopes would likely mean breaking this mark.

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