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Gen Lalonde sets national record in 3,000m steeplechase semi-final

The Moncton, NB native ran 9:22.64 to break Regan Yee's national record and qualify for the 3,000m steeplechase Olympic final

Day 3 of the track and field competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games kicked off Sunday morning (Saturday evening in Canada) with the first round of the women’s 3,000m steeplechase, and New Brunswick’s Genevieve Lalonde led the Canadian contingent, running 9:22.64 to smash her personal best and set a new Canadian record. She placed fourth in her heat and finished eighth overall out of 15 women who qualified for the final, which will be held on Wednesday.

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Lalonde ran in the first heat of the women’s steeplechase, and despite the extremely hot and humid conditions in Tokyo, still managed to run an incredible race, destroying Regan Yee’s previous Canadian record of 9:27.54 (set just last month, at nationals). The pack spread out considerably over the seven-and-a-half laps, and there was a 12-second spread from first to fourth. Ahead of Lalonde was Bahrain’s Winfred Yavi, who ran the fastest time of the morning to win the heat in 9:10.80, followed by Uganda’s Peruth Chemutai in 9:12.72 and the U.S.A’s Emma Coburn in 9:16.91.

Yee was next on the track in heat 2, but did not manage to qualify for the final, running 9:41.14 for 8th in her heat. Unfortunately, Alycia Butterworth fell during the third and final heat of the night; she still managed to run 9:34.25 for 10th in her heat but missed the qualifying time cutoff by about eight seconds and will not advance to Wednesday’s final.

Regan Yee at the 2021 Olympic and Paralympic Trials in Montreal. Photo: Bernard Brault/Athletics Canada

The current world record-holder, Beatrice Chepkoechfinished third in her heat, running 9:19.82, qualifying automatically to challenge for the gold medal on Wednesday.

Men’s 400m heats

Next on the track were the first heats of the men’s 400m, which saw five men run under 45 seconds across six heats. The fastest time of the day went to Michael Cherry of the U.S., who won the third heat in 44.82 seconds. The current world and Olympic record-holder in the event, South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerkplaced third in his heat in 45.25 to qualify on to the next round.

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