The Doha World Championships are less than two weeks away, and Team Canada is sending an extremely strong squad. The team is primarily made up of runners with previous World Championship experience, but there are a few rookies to watch for at the October championship. Here’s a closer look at some of the Canadian competitors in the upcoming event.
Lyndsay Tessier (marathon)–Tessier is certainly a team qualifier that few would have predicted. Tessier has consistently improved since beginning her running career only eight years ago. At the Canadian Marathon Championships in 2017, Tessier finished in 2:36:55, nine minutes faster than her previous best of 2:45:39, set in 2014. She ran her first marathon in 2012, where she ran 2:54:29. Seven years later (and nearly 25 minutes faster), Tessier landed herself on a start line with the best women in the world.
Sasha Gollish (marathon)–Gollish has had several near-misses with the World Championships. She came close in 2015 in the 1,500m and in 2017 in the 5,000m, but ultimately wasn’t named to either team. While this isn’t her first time named to Team Canada (she’s been on several world cross-country teams, is a Pan Am Games medallist and a Half-Marathon World Championships team member), this is her first time on the outdoor World Championships team.
Ryan Smeeton (steeplechase)–Smeeton has had a breakout 2019 season. The 20-year-old will be one of the youngest on the team and also one of the few team members who has never made a Canadian national team at any level. He’s a Calgary native, a senior at Oklahoma State University and he finished second in the NCAA steeplechase final in the spring.
Justyn Knight (5,000m)–Knight is one of the few athletes who managed to perform extremely well in his first World Championship two years ago. The runner finished ninth in the 5,000m among an extremely competitive field. Knight has since graduated, signed a professional contract with Reebok and is ready for another World Championship final, where he will hopefully improve on his placing from 2017.
Moh Ahmed (5,000m/10,000m)–Ahmed is fresh off a pacing job for his Bowerman teammates, in what ended up being one of the most competitive and unorthodox 5,000m races of the summer. The Portland-based track club set up a race to ensure that their runners had next year’s Olympic standard in the bag before the 2020 season began. Ahmed was their rabbit, and took his teammates through 4,600m at sub-Olympic standard pace (13:13.50) and looked effortless. Ahmed is clearly fit and ready for a big performance in 10 days’ time.
Gabriela DeBues-Stafford (1,500m)–The 23-year-old made Canadian history this summer at the Zurich Diamond League, becoming the first Canadian woman to run under four minutes in the 1,500m. Her new record of 3:59.59 was her sixth record of 2019. Only one year ago DeBues-Stafford was just becoming accustomed to the world scene, and learning the ropes of the highest level of track and field. But she’s a quick learner, and her 2019 has proved that. The runner has now broken seven Canadian records in eight months–all before this October’s World Championships. She has a real shot at winning a medal in Doha.
Damian Warner (decathlon)–Having won two World Championship medals and one Olympic medal in 2016, Warner is arguably the most experienced Worlds team member. He had a great summer, running the fastest-ever 100m within a decathlon competition on at Gotzis in May.
Gen Lalonde (steeplechase)–Lalonde broke her own Canadian record this summer at the Shanghai Diamond League and has run consistently well since. She’s coming off her third national title and is ready to take on another World Championships with the goal of being competitive in the final.
Matt Hughes (steeplechase)–Hughes has made some major life changes this summer. He officially left one of the most successful groups in track and field, the Bowerman Track Club, in July in favour of moving back to Toronto and training under Dave Reid. Doha will be his fifth World Championships, and it’ll be exciting to see what his life changes have done for his running game.