Talent search Athletics Canada chairman Jean-Guy Ouellette is already scouring for raw material to put in Canadian uniforms as retirements in the post-Olympic year thin out Canada's track and field ranks.
"I know there were 106 people who applied for status to stay in Canada for asylum after the Francophonie Games in Ottawa-Hull last month," Ouellette said at the world track and field championships in Edmonton. "It must be a record. We're trying to find out who they are."
One athlete at the world competition has also sought refugee status. Canada got two of its better athletes -- high-jumper Kwaku Boateng, who represented Ghana, and wrestler Daniel Igali, who represented Nigeria -- when they stayed behind at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria. Igali has since won a gold medal in the Olympics and Boateng is competing in tomorrow's world high-jump final.
"They're not all athletes and coaches from the Francophonie Games, because those Games also include a big cultural festival," Ouellette said.
With Athletics Canada's luck, 100 of them could turn out to be poets, dancers and drummers.
However, there is an African athlete working with Canadian coach John Cannon at the National Training Centre in Calgary who is interested in competing as a Canadian.
Kaltouma Nadjina, 24, of Chad, is faster than any of Canada's current homebrew 400-metre runners. She grew up idolizing the accomplishments of a Canadian runner -- Ben Johnson, who ultimately fell into steroid hell -- and wants to run for Canada. Cannon, who met her at the Sydney Olympics, believes she can break the 50-second barrier in the 400.
Ouellette said Athletics Canada is aware of Nadjina but can't do anything with her until a citizenship change is in progress. She is training in Canada with the aid of a $2,000-a-month grant from the International Olympic Committee. Ironically, although Nadjina is from a poor country, she would have to take a cut in stipend to be a Canadian. Canucks get only $1,100 a month under Sport Canada's athlete assistance plan, substantially less than the IOC gives her as charity. Throwing it away U.S. shot-put gold medalist John Godina bombed out in discus qualifying yesterday with a substandard throw of only 57.19 metres. "My throws were crap," he said. "I had too few practice throws after winning the shot and still found myself doing things wrong on the warm-up field. I thought I could fight it through, but that's the way it goes."
Another non-qualifier, Britain's Robert Weir, was no stranger to Edmonton. The 40-year-old Commonwealth Games discus champ played several seasons as a defensive lineman in the Canadian Football League at Hamilton, Toronto and Ottawa after the 1984 Olympics. He tried football with no previous experience "and as a walk-on, it was a tough learning curve." He returned to track and field in 1993 and coaches throwers at Stanford University. Greene injured A strained left thigh will keep 100-metre champion Maurice Greene from competing in the 200-metre sprint as well as the 4 x 100-metre relay at the world championships.
"I basically took my body where it wasn't ready to go," Greene said one day after he won his third consecutive 100 world title.
His time of 9.82 seconds was third-fastest ever. Only Greene has run faster, a 9.80 at the worlds in Seville two years ago, and his world record 9.79 in Athens, also in 1999.
He suffered his leg injury 20 metres from the finish line.
"I would say it was my best race ever -- up to 65 or 70 metres," Greene said.
Greene's training partner, Ato Boldon of Trinidad and Tobago, also pulled out of the 200-metre sprint. He complained of back pain after finishing fourth behind Greene in the 100 Sunday.