This weekend are the 2019 World Relays in Yokohama, Japan and Canada is sending a very impressive team. One of the youngest on the team is 19-year-old Zoe Sherar, a Toronto native who burst onto the scene in early 2019, dropping personal bests throughout the indoor season until she won the U Sports 300m.
She’s in her second year of undergrad at the University of Guelph and Sherar says her indoor season opened in early December with a personal best. “The race where I really began to see a significant improvement was down in Geneva, Ohio at the Spire Invitational. I broke the school record there [in the 300m] – something I didn’t think I was capable of doing. We also ran a school record in the 4x400m at that meet.”
Sherar says that she really enjoyed running relays and felt like they were good preparation for the U Sports championships. “Finishing the season with both individual and team titles at U Sports was a special way to end the season. A particularly special moment at nationals was with our women’s 4x200m, where we were able to break some records which had been a goal of ours all year.” The women broke the U Sports meet record which is an unofficial Canadian intercollegiate record.
The 400m runner’s biggest goal for the 2018-19 season was to make a national team, and she’s already accomplished that with the hope of also qualifying for the World Championships this weekend. “The main goal of the meet is to qualify the team for the World Championships. We have been working together consistently for almost a month now so we are ready to put it all out on the track. Personally, I am excited to experience my first international meet and contribute in whatever way I can.”
Sherar is hoping to run sub-52 seconds before the end of the season, a huge goal for someone whose personal best was 56 seconds only one year ago. But with her impressive performance at the Florida Relays in April where she ran 52.34, this goal is entirely attainable. Her time from Florida is the third-fastest Canadian mark for 2019. “Part of achieving that goal [sub-52] will involve improving my top end speed with races like the 200m, as well as more speed and weight training. This year is a big jump in many ways from where I was last year, so I think it will be important to keep training consistently and trying to stay healthy as I navigate a longer season.”
For the first time in its history, World Relays will have equal numbers of men’s and women’s events in 2019, with the addition of the shuttle hurdles (which feature two men and two women running 110m hurdles in a relay format) and the 2x2x400m relay.
Canadian record holder and Olympic medallist Andre De Grasse is also set to compete this weekend. The World Relays will be his first national team since pulling himself from the Commonwealth Games in 2018 due to injury.
CBC is providing full coverage of the event beginning at 5:30 a.m. ET on Saturday which includes the 4x400m and 4x100m heats.