Canada wins two early Pan Am gold medals in...
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Jul 21, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

Canada wins two early Pan Am gold medals in athletics

Shawn Barber won pole vault while Elizabeth Gleadle took the javelin competition

OurWindsor.Ca

Full-throated cheers rained on Liz Gleadle as she prepared to hurl her sixth and final javelin. She had faulted then tossed a lacklustre 55 metres on her two previous throws, and needed her best distance of the day to win Pan Am Games gold.

She later said she felt elated as the noise of the crowd buzzed in her ears and she stepped up to launch her pointed spear.

“It’s like if you’ve ever been in love and your heart is about to explode with happiness,” Gleadle said. “When you know that 95 per cent of the people in the crowd are truly rooting for you to do well, it’s a pretty electrifying feeling... Your whole body just lights up like a Christmas tree.”

She wound up and let the javelin fly. The point dug in at 62.83 metres and the audience at the CIBC Athletics Stadium at York University went bananas. Gleadle won the gold medal for Canada, and she immediately burst into tears as she ran to hug her family.

Kara Winger of the U.S. won silver with a top distance of 61.44, while third place went to Brazilian Jucilene De Lima, who threw 60.42.

Melissa Fraser from Halton Hills, Ont. tossed 52.20 and finished seventh.

Later, Shawn Barber, of Toronto, cleared 5.80 metres en route to his first place finish in men’s pole vault.

Argentina’s German Chiaraviglio took silver at 5.75 and Jake Blankenship of the United States cleared 5.40 to finish third.

Gleadle, a 26-year-old from Vancouver, is the best women’s javelin thrower to come out of Canada in a generation. She has four national championships to her name, and became the first woman in her discipline to represent Canada at the Olympics since 1988 when she placed 12th in London three years ago. She’s also set new Canadian records four times, most recently in May when she fired the javelin 64.84 metres.

Her Pan Am victory comes after she missed the whole 2013 season with a back injury, while she told the Vancouver Sun last month that she had doubts her training was “coming together” ahead of the games. All that was dispelled with her win on Tuesday.

“I guess I’m one of the senior athletes now,” Gleadle said. “It’s cool to be one of the athletes expected to perform and it’s cool to be able to do it on command.

“I guess everybody was rooting for me to pull through and I wanted to put on a show and I guess I did.”

In the pole vault, Barber took the bar all the way up to 5.93 metres, which would have been a new record for him and Canada. But, on Tuesday, at the CIBC Athletics Stadium in his hometown of Toronto, it was just a height too far.

“Maybe next time,” said the 21-year-old, who lives and trains in the U.S. “After you’re done and you can go home happy, at that point, it’s hard to keep the momentum, especially with a really stressful meet like this.”

But he had to try.

“Anything to one up myself a little bit,” he said, with a smile.

That’s all Barber really can do in Canada.

He’s broken the Canadian pole vault record so many times he doesn’t keep count anymore. In May, he brought it up to 5.91 metres, where it still stands.

Toronto Star

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