Brendan Kenny says his time will come – and his marathon time will come down, too.
The 26-year-old high school teacher from Dundas, Ont., strode to victory for the second consecutive year in the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon, capturing the title in 2 hours 27 minutes 56.6 seconds.
Winning doesn’t get him to the London Olympics – Canada’s Olympic marathoners have already been declared – but a pair of Toronto victories puts Kenny on the radar screen for future assignments. He has won six of his past nine races, including three marathons.
Kenny’s time may be nothing special. It’s more than 17 minutes shy of Canada’s best by an active runner, Dylan Wykes of Kingston, Ont. But that doesn’t bother Kenny, who ran through the Toronto race (rather than taper for it) and doesn’t expect yet to challenge Canada’s marathon trio for the London Olympics – Wykes, Reid Coolsaet of Hamilton, Ont., or Eric Gillis of Antigonish, N.S.
“It doesn’t take the edge off that they have run faster or that they’ll go to London. I’ve got future Olympics and Pan American Games to train for,” Kenny said. He expects a faster time in the May 27 Calgary Marathon, for which he is aiming.
“I ran a wonderful time for training – and I’m juggling a full-time high school teaching job from 8 to 5, driving to McMaster [University]to work out at night and studying for my MBA at Mac.
“I definitely work hard ... but these guys are full-time athletes. They’re playing a different game. I would have been happier with a faster time, but it fits in.”
Kenny won the 35th Toronto Marathon by almost a minute in fair, warm conditions over Toronto’s Robert Winslow, 23, timed in 2:28:51.6.
A distant third in 2:31:53.2 was David Savard Gagnon, 30, of Baie-St-Paul, Que.,.
The top woman in the Toronto race was Jutta Merilainen of Batawa, Ont., in 2:47:16.2.
The race, which last year was run “in cold, pouring rain and gale-force winds,” Kenny said, attracted more that 8,000 people to Toronto’s streets for the marathon, half-marathon and shorter relay races.
The half marathon was won by Nickson Rugut of Toronto in 1:10:50.2, while the women’s half marathon went to another Torontonian, Amanda McLeod, 1:21.10.7.
Meanwhile, in suburban Mississauga, Ont., Toronto’s Joe Campanelli was the winner of the ninth annual Mississauga Marathon, completing the race in 2:32:52.7. The women’s race was won by American Amy Frazier of East Amhurst, N.Y., in 2:57:28.1.
Victor Gatundu, a Kenyan native now residing in Burlington, Ont., won Mississauga’s half-marathon with a time of 1:11:18.0. Lisa Cybulskie of Peterborough, Ont., won the women’s half-marathon in 1:19:57.2.
Canada’s men’s team, ranked 18th in the world, needs to win a seven-team Americas tournament at Long Beach, Calif., to qualify for the Olympics. Canada’s round-robin pool includes Cuba (world No. 5), Puerto Rico (17) and the Dominican Republic (46). Group A comprises the United States (6), Mexico (23) and Trinidad and Tobago (33). Canada opens round-robin play May 7 against the Dominicans followed by matches May 8 against Puerto Rico and May 9 against Cuba. Canada’s big names are Dan Lewis of Oakville, Ont., Fred Winters of Victoria and rising star Gavin Schmitt of Saskatoon. It’s been 20 years since Canada’s last Olympic berth.
Canada’s women will miss the London Olympics after dropping a five-set loss to Puerto Rico and finishing fourth in their qualifying event at Tijuana, Mexico. The Dominican Republic beat Cuba to take gold and an Olympic berth.
Canada had a win and a loss in the third session of Americas qualifications at Rio de Janeiro, with 49-kilogram Emilien Boucher, the 20-year-old Canadian champ from Quebec City outclassing Honduran Bayron Efraim Molina Figueroa 25-10; at 56 kg, Justin Hocko of Windsor, Ont., who got to the Americas tourney by beating four-time Canadian champ Joey Laviolette, lost a close bout to Puerto Rico’s Alberto Machado, 16-12. In first bout meetings Saturday, Custio Clayton of Halifax had a 20-10 win over Jorge Rivas of Colombia at 69 kg, while Brody Blair of New Glasgow, N.S., defeated Oscar Guedes of Uruguay 21-9 at 75 kg.
TRACK AND FIELD
The International Association of Athletic Federations reviewed its residency and citizenship regulations and reversed its eligibility ruling, allowing Canada’s second-ranked shot putter, Justin Rodhe, 27, to compete in the Olympics. The body ruled in March that the native of Bainbridge, Ohio, was ineligible because he didn’t meet requirements. But Athletics Canada CEO Rob Guy, head coach Alex Gardiner and director of national team programs Scott MacDonald convinced the IAAF the spirit of its rule was to keep countries from “buying” athletes to switch nationalities before the Olympics. Rodhe has lived in Kamloops, and trained under coach Anatoliy Bondarchuk, for more than four years. More than 18 months ago he wed hammer-thrower Megann Rodhe, a native of Oakville, Ont., and he became a Canadian citizen on Nov. 1. Rodhe achieved Canada’s A-plus qualifying standard for the London Games with his throw of 21.11 metres last month in Lawrence, Kan. He needs to finish top-three at the Olympic trials in late-June in Calgary to confirm his ticket to London.
John Pineda of Vancouver and Jeff Adamson of Saskatoon, Sask., fell short of qualifying Canada for the 2012 Olympic Games in their respective weight categories, in Finland. Both Pineda, at 60 kg, and Adamson, at 84 kg, had to reach the gold-medal final in their last tournament. Pineda, 30, had a bye in the opening round then defeated his opponent in two bouts (6-0, 6-0), but lost to Armenian wrestler Artur Arakelyan. Adamson beat Japan’s Naoki Momma in his first bout, then lost to Maciej Balawender of Poland.