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Some of Canada’s top athletes left out of Athletics Canada funding

Ben Preisner and Luc Bruchet are just two of several top athletes who won't receive funding for 2021-2022

Earlier this month, Athletics Canada released its list of the athletes who will receive funding for the 2021/2022 season, based on their performance in 2020 and 2021. The Canadian running community is scratching their collective heads, as a number of accomplished distance runners were left off the list.

Photo: Athletics Canada

In 2018, Ben Preisner was ranked in the top-20 as a senior in the NCAA in his 10,000m event, with a personal best of 29:08. In March of 2019, he represented Canada nationally at the World Cross-Country Championships in Denmark, where he finished as the top Canadian, 76th overall. He followed that with a win at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon, running the eighth-fastest time ever by a Canadian (1:03:08). Then the pandemic hit, and he decided to give the marathon a shot as his only possible chance to qualify for the Olympic Games. He ran 2:10:17, the fourth-fastest time by a Canadian. He was chosen to represent Canada in Tokyo to compete against the world’s top athletes in the marathon.

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Preisner will not receive funding for 2021-22 but expressed to us that he has submitted his concerns to Athletics Canada. Here are a few other notable Canadian athletes left off that list.

Malindi Elmore – a two-time Olympian, who ran the 1,500m in Athens 2004, and came out of a seven-year retirement to move up to the marathon for Tokyo 2020. She broke the women’s Canadian marathon record, running 2:24:50 in her second-ever bid at the distance in 2020. Elmore finished ninth in the Olympic Marathon and was the first Canadian to finish, in 2:30:59. (Initially Elmore did not receive funding because she had already received over six years’ worth of support without achieving a top-eight result, per Athletics Canada, but according to her husband and coach, Graham Hood, the situation has been resolved to the satisfaction of all concerned.)

Charles Philibert-Thiboutot – a 1,500m Olympian in Rio 2016, who just missed out on qualification for the 1,500m the 2020 Games. A few weeks later, he clocked a World Championship-qualifying time of 3:34.43 at a meet in California, the second-fastest time by a Canadian in the last three years.

Luc Bruchet – a two-time Olympian in the 5,000m. Bruchet ran a 5,000m personal best at the Harry Jerome Track Classic in June of this year, with a time of 13:12.56, 12 seconds faster than his previous best to earn a spot on the 2020 Olympic team. A week later, he won the Canadian title in the 10,000m (28:40).

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Athletics Canada (AC) receives money annually from Canadian taxpayers through Sport Canada, a branch of the federal government, and Own the Podium, whose goal is for Canada to be a world leader in high-performance sport at the Olympics and Paralympic Games. Executives at Athletics Canada decide which athletes receive funding. Athletes can apply for funding through Athletics Canada every September. 

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AC believes that “outstanding physical potential, world-class processes and outstanding mental resilience are required for sustained success at the World and Olympic/Paralympic level.” All of these athletes have exhibited these qualities, so why are they not receiving funding?

We reached out to Athletics Canada, and this was high-performance director Simon Nathan’s response. “The three male athletes were not considered by the selection panel as they are not showing the realistic potential to achieve a top-eight performance at World Championships or Olympic Games in the next six to eight years.”