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Olympian Jessica O’Connell weighs in on the upcoming Canadian 5K Championships

The Canadian 5K Road Race Championships take place Sunday morning in Toronto. Olympian Jessica O'Connell chats about why she's looking forward to it.

Canadian track championships
Canadian 5k championships
Jessica O’Connell competes in the women’s 5000m final at the Athletics Canada 2016 Track and Field Trials at Foote Field in Edmonton on July 7.

Jessica O’Connell from Calgary, Alta. ran the 5,000m in Rio. She ran 15:51 in the heats but did not advance to the finals. She has a personal best of 15:06. We caught up with her and asked about her experience in Rio and what she was looking forward to about participating in the 5K Champs.

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Canadian Running: You represented Canada at the recent Olympics in Rio. What was the experience like, what did you learn from it and how does Rio affect your plans going forward?

Jessica O’Connell: Running in the Olympics satisfied a dream that I’ve had forever, and I was filled with gratitude to be on the start line after a very rough and stressful year of injuries. Still, I wanted to make the final and believed I was capable of it. Unfortunately my body had other plans in the last kilometer of my heat, and I left unsatisfied [and didn’t qualify for the final]. I learned about many of the extraneous factors that go into preparing for a big moment, many of them psychological, and having experienced this will allow me to know what to expect going forward.

Canadian Running: What are your goals and expectations ahead of the 5K Champs? How are you preparing/training between now and then? 

Jessica O’Connell: I am actually running the Brussels Diamond League 5000m only 48 hours before. I had initial plans to race in Italy after, but the race was cancelled due to the earthquake so I decided to run the 5K champs on my way home. I’m not anticipating feeling 100 per cent, but why the heck not? I figure that I have nothing to lose and I thoroughly enjoyed the race two years ago.

Canadian Running: What do you like about this event? About racing in Toronto?

Jessica O’Connell: Running the Yorkville 5K in 2014 allowed me to see a funky part of Toronto I didn’t know existed–I’m from Calgary–and I really enjoyed the friendly atmosphere and cheery participants.

Canadian Running: What are your training and racing plans following the 5K Champs?

Jessica O’Connell: I’m looking forward to some much-needed downtime!