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Athletics Canada launches nine-meet series for Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls

The Tokyo Qualifier Series will take place across the country between May 21 and June 29

Melissa Bishop Photo by: Claus Andersen/Athletics Canada

On Wednesday, Athletics Canada (AC) announced plans for a nine-meet series that will give the country’s top athletes chances to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics on Canadian soil. The first event of the Athletics Canada Tokyo Qualifier Series will take place on May 21 in Ottawa, and the series will wrap up in Montreal on June 29, the final day of qualifying for the Olympics. 

Many Canadian athletes live and train outside of Canada, and they have had chances to hit the Olympic standards in their respective events at international meets over the past few months. In that time, athletes who live in Canada have been permitted to travel to international races in the U.S. or Europe, but a big deterrent was the mandatory quarantine after returning home. Days in quarantine means less time to train, which is not ideal for an elite athlete. 

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Ever since the pandemic hit and races everywhere were cancelled, Canadian athletes living north of the border have asked how they will qualify for the Olympics and Paralympics, and the Athletics Canada Tokyo Qualifier Series is the answer. 

The series will take place in 10 cities in B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, with some of the meets being split between different venues. For example, the Harry Jerome Track Classic, which is the seventh meet on the series schedule, is set for June 12 in B.C., with track races in Burnaby, throws (excluding javelin) in Kelowna and jumps and javelin in Vancouver.

A shot from the women’s 5000m final at the Athletics Canada 2016 Track and Field Trials in Edmonton.

“With more than half of our national team athletes based in Canada, and spots on Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic teams on the line, we felt it was our responsibility to offer a series of quality domestic competitions,” said AC high performance director Simon Nathan. In addition to giving athletes a chance to compete for spots on the Olympic and Paralympic teams, most of the AC meets will award prize money to top finishers. 

Canadian Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls will also get the chance to qualify for Tokyo at the Olympic and Paralympic Track and Field Trials, set for June 24 to 27 in Montreal.

RELATED: A look back: Dayna Pidhoresky and Trevor Hofbauer after last year’s Canadian Olympic Marathon Trials at STWM

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