There were many stories that came out of the 2023 Canadian Track and Field Championships, but none compare to that of Toronto’s Brendon Rodney. The 31-year-old sprinter came away from nationals with a personal best, two podium finishes and two world championship standards (in the 100 and 200 metres).
On Friday night in the men’s 100m semi-final, Rodney shocked himself with a 10.00-flat clocking, smashing his personal best by nearly two-tenths of a second (from nationals in 2017). His time also equals the 2023 world championship standard for the men’s 100m, earning him a position on Team Canada in Budapest.
“I was shocked,” says Rodney. “I saw the clock stop at 9.95 seconds first (before adjusting to 10-flat), but moments like these are what we train for.”
Hours later, Rodney followed up his personal best performance with the second-fastest time in his career (10.12 seconds), to win silver behind Aaron Brown, who claimed his fifth consecutive Canadian 100m title, in 10.08 seconds.
Rodney says he has subtly changed his approach to training this season. “I am listening to my coach more,” Rodney laughs. He says his coach, Jamaica’s Maurice Wilson, has helped him work on his turning and power out of the blocks. “Being around my coach’s experience and my training partners pushes me to run faster. It’s like mimicking competition every day.”
On Sunday, Rodney added another national medal to his resume with a third-place finish in the 200m final. His time of 20.15 seconds was his fastest of the season and also under the 200m world championship standard of 20.16. Rodney was beaten in the final by two of his Canadian 4x100m relay teammates, Brown and Andre De Grasse.
De Grasse made an epic comeback in the final to win the race in a season’s best 20.01 seconds—his fastest 200m time since 2021 and his first Canadian title since 2017. Before this, De Grasse did not qualify for the Canadian 100m final on Friday night, after struggling with consistency in the distance throughout the season.
Rodney says he encouraged De Grasse before the 200 final: “In the call room, I told Andre to just remember who you are. I reminded him to look at his bib… ‘You’re Andre De Grasse!’
“I am not surprised he found his old self,” says Rodney. “When you see a guy struggling, a performance like this is good for their confidence.”
Rodney expressed gratitude for the quality and depth of Canadian sprinting. “Andre, Aaron and I have been doing this for eight and nine years now,” he says. “We love competing on home soil and are motivated by each other, wanting the best for one another.”
Although he is looking forward to the 2023 World Championships in Budapest, Rodney says it’s time to go back to work to put himself in the best position and shape to survive and advance at world championships later this month.