Tue | Dec 7, 2021

Canada plan surprise at World Relays

Published:Monday | May 6, 2019 | 12:27 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer

A tight schedule has obliged Canada to forego a defence of its IAAF World Relays 4x200m title this weekend in Yokohama, Japan. One member of that champion team said Canada will instead focus on the 4x100m with a goal to win. Sub-20 200m man Brendon Rodney says he and his teammates hope to ­surprise the world.

In 2017, when the relays were held for the last time in the Bahamas, Gavin Smellie, Rodney, double Olympic silver medallist Andre deGrasse, and Aaron Brown sped through the two-lap relay in 1:19.42 minutes to beat the United States (US) and Jamaica. However, a title defence is unlikely.

“No 4x200m because of the schedule,” Rodney said after his participation at the Senior Link Up meet in Kingston on Saturday, “so we’re just going to do 4x100m alone, and hopefully, we can win it.”

The 4x100m heats stand alone on May 11, day one of the event, but the heats of the 4x200m, the 4x100m final, and the 4x200m final are on day two. Furthermore, the 4x100m and 4x200m finals are set for 6:23 a.m. and 6:52 a.m. Jamaica time.

Born in Toronto and resident from time to time in Kingston, Rodney reckons he and his ­teammates are underdogs.

SURPRISE THE WORLD

“We’re just trying our best, hoping that we can surprise the world and track people,” he said after placing third in his 200m race. Though the Canadian 4x100m team won bronze medals at the 2015 World Championships and the 2016 Olympic Games, he said, “We’re still even not mentioned when people are talking about the big teams. You know: England, Jamaica, USA, so we’re still kinda underdogs.”

The Canadian bid for glory in Yokohama has been boosted by a return to fitness by deGrasse.

“We try our best even when he’s not there,” the Sprintec Track Club athlete said of his compatriot, “but [he is] definitely somebody to look out for this year.”

The full team is deGrasse, Rodney, Commonwealth Games 200m runner-up Brown, Jerome Blake and Bismark Boateng.

With Boateng, Blake and Brown on duty, Canada won the NACAC Championships 4x100m in 38.57 seconds last year.

Rodney, who beat deGrasse in a personal best of 19.96 seconds to win the 2016 Canadian Olympic trials, wants to head back up to top speed.

“[I want to] go back under 20 seconds, so 19 seconds is always going to be my target,” he said.

The pragmatic 27-year-old knows what it will take to add ­individual honours to his relay medals of the past. With the September 28-October 6 World Championships on his mind, he estimated: “If you run 19.8 in the championships, you probably will medal, so that’s the goal, so we’re just training towards September.”

Rodney emerged at Long Island University – Brooklyn. In his last year there, he was third over 200m in the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championships behind the American pair of Jarrion Lawson and Christian Coleman, who has since won the 2018 World Indoor 60m title.