Canada’s top hope for a track and field medal at this summer’s London Olympic Games, shot putter Dylan Armstrong, will consult with medical staff at home after a pain in his throwing arm caused him to fall short of qualifying for the shot put final of the world indoor championships in Istanbul on Friday.
But while Armstrong felt the sting of injury and of failing to advance, three Canadians did get through to Saturday’s semi-final rounds in short races, bolstering the country’s Olympic medal hopes in London.
Hurdler Nikkita Holder of Pickering, Ont., was third in her heat of the women’s 60-metre hurdles behind winner Sally Pearson of Australia. Pearson was timed in 7.85 seconds while the Canadian ran in 8.15.
In the men’s 60-metre flat race, Justyn Warner of Markham, Ont., ran 6.75 seconds to place second in his heat behind Trinidad’s Marc Burns in 6.69 and Michael Leblanc of Riverview, N.B., proved to be the fastest Canadian at the distance, 6.74 to finish second in another heat to British veteran Dwain Chambers at 6.65.
Leblanc was second fastest breaking out of the starting blocks in the entire men’s sprint field.
For Armstrong, who was the world leader in shot put last year, it was a day of caution and protecting himself for London.
“My arm has been sore, it flared up before I left for Turkey but it got better and I was hoping there wasn’t going to be any issues,” he said.
“Unfortunately it flared up on me again and just didn’t feel right when I was extending to throw so I was hesitant in the circle to push hard and risk any serious injury,” Armstrong said.
“I felt pain in my throwing arm in my first attempt. I felt it before in training so I was doing light throws,” he said.
“This isn’t going to be a long-term concern, the athletic therapist is working on it and this will all be behind me very shortly. I’m still in a heavy training phase so that does take a toll on the body.”
Armstrong, fourth at the previous indoor worlds, in Doha, Qatar, had a throw of 19.84 metres, 20 centimetres too short to make the eight-man final field. U.S. shot putter Ryan Whiting launched the steel ball a winning 22.00 metres on his fifth throw. Germany’s 21-year-old outdoor world champion, David Storl, had the two best indoor throws of his life to come second at 21.88 metres. Poland’s Olympic gold medalist Tomasz Majewski produced a 21.72-metre toss for third.
In the day’s other final, women’s pentathlon, Ukraine’s Natalya Dobrynska scored a world record 5,013 points. She beat Briton Jessica Ennis soundly in the long jump and shot put and stayed about three seconds behind in 800 metres to beat the defending champion who set a national record of 4,965 points.
Canadian hurdler Holder – usually in the shadows of former double world champion Perdita Felicien and Olympic medalist Priscilla Lopes-Schliep – didn’t take any chances coming out of the blocks, registering a mediocre reaction time of 0.318 seconds.
“This is my first world indoors and I wanted to make sure I didn’t false start. I had a slow start but came on stronger over the last few hurdles; looking to build on that for next round,” she said.
In the men’s 60-metres, a confident Warner said he “came here with the objective of making the final, and today was the first step towards that.”
Leblanc said he “had a plan all season to be here, I’m not going down without a fight. Today was a good test of where I stand.”
The semi-finals of the hurdles and sprints are Saturday morning, with finals scheduled later in the day.
While they go on, two of the favourites will be spectators. Women’s indoor hurdling world leader Kristi Castlin (7.84) stopped running when she mistakenly thought a false start had happened. In the men’s sprint, Jamaica’s Lerone Clarke, one of the fastest dash men this season at 6.47, was sluggish in getting out of the blocks and ran a non-qualifying 7.05.