Jenna Martin had less than a minute to make it count — 51.55 seconds, to be exact.
With one last shot at cementing a spot on Canada’s Olympic track and field team for London, the 24-year-old from Bridgewater, N.S., ran to a time of 51.53 seconds to win the 400 metres at the trials Friday at Foothills Athletic Park, dipping under the standard by a mere two-hundreds of a second.
“My mind was kind of all over the place, I had one more shot to get it,” Martin said, still bent at the waist and breathing heavily several moments after her win.
“But it makes the victory that much sweeter.”
Martin, clutching a small Union Jack flag that an Athletics Canada representative had handed her after the race, had recorded the Olympic B standard twice already this season, but since she competed at the world championships in the past, she needed the A standard and a top-three finish at the trials.
Christian Brennan of Waterdown, Ont., won the silver medal with a time of 52.99, while Carline Muir took the bronze with 52.99.
Martin, last year’s national 400-metre champion, said she’d been gunning for the standard every time she stepped on the track this season, coming as close as a half a second in her seven or eight previous attempts.
“I had been really close, the blink of an eye,” she said.
The University of Kentucky product has a large tiger tattoo down the left side of her ribcage to symbolize courage, and a large tattoo on her back, Psalm 56 from the Bible that reads: “In God I trust, I will not be afraid.”
“Kind of God always has my back, and I can never be afraid,” she said.
Her only concern Friday was about the conditions. Tuesday’s opening news conference was held during a torrential downpour, and then gusting winds had been swirling around the stadium Wednesday and Thursday.
The conditions were almost perfect Friday night though, with sunny skies and calm winds, and the sprinter, her hair pulled back into a ponytail, led from the gun to power to victory in front a packed grandstand.
“I don’t think I thought the whole time, just ‘push push push’ and when I crossed the line I had no idea the time that I ran,” she said. “They posted it on the board and I thought, ‘Is that really my time?’ I saw I qualified and was ecstatic.”
Martin said her family had been waiting hoping for her to qualify for London before booking their tickets to the Games.
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