Canadian women narrowly miss track relay medal at 2nd straight Olympics

Alicia Brown, Madeline Price, Kyra Constantine and Sage Watson were oh-so close to winning Canada’s first Olympic medal in the women’s 400-metre relay since 1984.

How close? Try 60-100ths of a second.

Canada sat third around the final bend but Jamaica’s Candace McLeod caught Watson on the straightaway and crossed the finish line in three minutes 21.24 seconds for bronze at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium.

Watson followed in fourth in 3:21.84, taking off more than two seconds off her squad’s 3:24.05 qualifying time.

WATCH | Canada runs to 4th in women’s 4x400m relay:

The Canadian women’s team comprised of Alicia Brown, Madeline Price, Kyra Constantine and Sage Watson finished in fourth, just 0.6 seconds back of the third-place Jamaicans, in the 4x400m relay at Tokyo 2020. 4:58

The hurdler from Medicine Hat, Alta., was also part of the 2016 Olympic team in Rio team when Great Britain captured bronze, stopping the clock 55-100ths of a second before the heartbroken Canadians.

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In the 2019 world final, the 27-year-old Watson covered the last 400 metres in 50.7 seconds — the fastest split of any runner on the team — when Canada crossed the finish line fifth in 3:25.91. However, Canada was later disqualified when it was determined a lane infringement occurred during the first exchange between Aiyanna-Brigitte Stiverne and Brown.

Charmaine Crooks, Molly Killingbeck, Jillian Richardson-Briscoe and Marita Payne-Wiggins remain the only 4×400 relay team from Canada with an Olympic medal after they ran 3:21.21 for silver in 1984 to set a national record in Los Angeles.

In Saturday’s eight-team race, Canada was fifth when Brown handed the baton to Price after the opening leg. Price, who joined the team at 2019 worlds, moved the Canadians to fourth in the second 400 and 5-100ths behind Jamaica at the change-over with Constantine, who ran anchor in the qualifier.

Canada led the Jamaicans by 14-100ths when Watson grabbed the baton from Constantine.

Watson anchored the squad to fourth in Rio but was overtaken in the final 100 metres of the 2019 Pan Am final after leading much of the race for the silver medal-winning Canadians. In June, she strained her lower back but raced the 400 hurdles earlier in Tokyo and appeared healthy during Thursday’s qualifier.

Seccafien 15th in 10,000m final

Canada’s Andrea Seccafien will return home to Australia with a pair of 15th-place performances from her 1st appearances in an Olympic final.

The exhausted 30-year-old capped her second Summer Games on Saturday with a time of 31 minutes 36.36 seconds, dropping to her knees in the oppressive heat moments after crossing the finish line at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium.

It was the second time in five career races at the distance Seccafien has run under 32 minutes, topped only by her 31:13.94 Canadian-record performance on May 14 to beat the 31:25 Olympic standard at the Sound Running Track Meet in Irvine, Calif.

Seccafien was hopeful of placing inside the top 10 in Tokyo after not advancing from the 5,000 heats at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“In Rio I was so green. I had never raced on that level and hadn’t even [competed at a] Diamond League meet,” Seccafien told CBC Sports last November from her home in Melbourne. “I had no idea what to do in that race and it showed. … Now, I feel I’ve learned how to run those [championship] races better.”

A week ago, the native of Guelph, Ont., clocked 14:59.55 over 5,000 metres in her first-ever race for an Olympic medal.

The first step in Seccafien transition to the 10,000 was breaking Natasha Wodak’s Canadian women’s record in the half marathon on Feb. 2, 2020 in Japan shortly before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’ve thought for a long time that the 5K is not my event, that it’s too short and I would be better at the 10K,” she said. “I think I’m more suited to the 10K and half marathon, based on the sessions I enjoy and what I excel at. Going forward, I want to run the 10K, half marathon and possibly longer.”

Seccafien would run three weeks after the Japan event in a local 10-kilometre road race before COVID-19 shut down the sports world.

In the shape of her life, the native of Guelph, Ont., was hoping to achieve the Olympic qualifying standard in the 10,000 last year in Australia rather than having to travel to North America.

“I continued to train and things were going well but over time it does wear on you – not having a plan, not knowing what’s going to happen, how long the lockdown will last,” recalled Seccafien, who endured two lockdowns in 2020. “You start wondering when your next race might be. I felt the worry started getting bigger. I did take a break because I was so overwhelmed.”

Seccafien’s mental health suffered greatly through two lockdowns in Australia, the second of which lasted 111 days, and she didn’t compete for eight months.

Hassan makes athletics history

Sifan Hassan won Saturday’s race in 29:55.32 after taking the women’s 5,000 earlier in the week and earning bronze in between in Friday’s 1,500.

While the 28-year-old Ethiopian-born Dutch woman didn’t complete the treble, she became the first runner – male or female – to run the events at a single Olympics.

In 1952, Emil Zatopek won gold in the 5,000, 10,000 and marathon for Czechoslovakia at the Helsinki Games.

At the 2016 Olympics, Hassan placed fifth in the 1,500 and was eliminated in the 800 heats.

WATCH | Hassan wins 2nd gold medal in Tokyo:

Alicia Brown, Madeline Price, Kyra Constantine and Sage Watson discuss the pride of running a fast race, compared to the frustration of just missing the podium. 2:10

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