Just over a month ago at a small track meet in Toronto, Justyn Warner blew away the field in the 60 metres in a sizzling time that suddenly vaulted him to fourth fastest in the world this season.
While the accomplishment might have been largely overlooked at home, it was exactly the boost the Toronto sprinter needed heading into the world indoor championships this weekend in Istanbul.
Warner’s time of 6.59 seconds opened doors to some major international indoor meets, and the 24-year-old spent the next couple of weeks competing in the United States, France and Belgium.
“That meet wasn’t anything big, I was way ahead of the field, but that’s what I needed to get into those races with better competition,” Warner said. “That’s what it did for me.”
Warner will race the 60-metre heats Friday as part of the small Canadian contingent competing in Turkey that includes Dylan Armstrong. The Kamloops native, ranked No. 1 in the world last year, is the favourite in men’s shot put.
Warner’s fiancée, Nikkita Holder, will race the 60-metre hurdles.
“It will be nice, it will be the two of us trying to get on the podium,” Warner said.
Michael Leblanc of Riverview, N.B., will join Warner in the 60.
Warner now has the 12th-fastest time in an event that’s expected to turn into another Jamaica-U.S. duel. Lerone Clarke of Jamaica has been on a roll coming into Istanbul, boasting the world’s fastest time until Trell Kimmons ran 6.45 seconds to top his time by two-hundredths of a second.
Armstrong will be out for revenge when he battles David Storl, the German shot putter who beat him at the world outdoor championships last summer, and Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski of Poland. The U.S. has two strong entries in Reese Hoffa and Ryan Whiting.
The shot put qualifying round and final are both Friday.
Warner’s performances overseas weren’t as speedy as his breakthrough race at York University, but the sprinter said he learned some big lessons ahead of Istanbul and the 2012 London Olympics.
“I didn’t adapt well to travelling,” Warner said. “It’s easy running at home, you’re in your own environment, we train at York every single day, so you’re just comfortable with it.
“Going away, you’ve got to sleep a lot, rest a lot, drink a lot, and those are things that I didn’t do and I kind of struggled with. Luckily it was my first time doing that, so I needed that experience to learn from it.”
There’s just under $2.5-million (all currency U.S.) in prize money up for grabs over the next three days with winners pocketing $40,000, and prize money going all the way down to sixth place ($4,000). There’s a $50,00 bonus for setting a world indoor record.
Sally Pearson will make a run at the four-year-old world indoor hurdles record of 7.68, held by Susanna Kallur of Sweden. The Australian is the runaway in a hurdles field that is missing top Canadians Priscilla Lopes-Schliep and Perdita Felicien. Lopes-Schliep, No. 1 in the world in the summer of 2010, is rebounding from having a baby last fall.
Pearson is the reigning world outdoor champion, and should be the Canadians’ stiffest challenge at the London Olympics.
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