Nine York athletes head to Canadian Track & Field Championships

Nine members of the York Lions track and field team will be competing at the 2009 Canadian Track & Field Championships & World Championships Selection Trials this weekend at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Centre.

Right: Mat Stiver-Balla (right)

Tyrone Halstead and Kristin Obrochta, both from Mississauga, Elizabeth Petrov from Richmond Hill and Mat Stiver-Balla from Toronto are all competing in two events at the June 25 to 28 meet. Cynthia Appiah from Etobicoke, Randolph Fajardo from Toronto, Suyi Georgewill from Brampton, along with Heather Hamilton and Dontae Richards-Kwok from Mississauga, are entered in one event each. Also competing at the meet is the team’s assistant coach Richard Parkinson.

Hamilton will compete in the pole vault and is looking to improve upon her silver-medal finish from last year’s national championship. She finished second in 2008 with a jump of 3.95 metres but enters the event this season with a personal best of 4.22 metres.

The Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) gold medallist and Ontario University Athletics (OUA) field events player of the year for the Lions this past season, Hamilton was also recently named to the Canadian team for the International University Sports Federation (FISU) Summer Universiade Games. She will be travelling to Belgrade, Serbia, following the weekend meet to compete against the top university athletes from around the world.

Left: Heather Hamilton

Fajardo, Halstead and Stiver-Balla are entered in the men’s 100-metre sprint. All three were members of the CIS gold-medal winning 4-by-200-metre relay team this past season. Halstead also won OUA gold and CIS bronze in the 60 metres and was the 2007 and 2008 Canadian junior champion in the 100 metres. Stiver-Balla competed at the nationals last year, finishing 30th in the 100 metres.

The national championship this weekend provides these three men with an opportunity to test their mettle against the top sprinters in the country as all eight legs of the 4-by-100-metre Olympic team that placed sixth in Beijing are also in the field – Pierre Brown, Jared Connaughton, Anson Henry and Hank Palmer. Halstead and Stiver-Balla will also run in the men’s 200-metre sprint.

Richards-Kwok, the OUA rookie of the year after collecting three OUA medals and a CIS gold in the men’s 4-by-200-metre relay, is entered in the 400-metre race and will be participating in the national championships for the first time.

Appiah is also competing in her first nationals and she has an excellent chance to end up on the podium as she is ranked fourth in shot put heading into the meet. Joining her in the shot put competition are Petrov and Obrochta, who are currently ranked seventh and 13th.

Right: Dontae Richards-Kwok

In addition to the shot put, Petrov is part of the javelin throw event and Obrochta will be in the field for the hammer throw. Obrochta, the OUA champion in the weight throw, recorded a seventh-place finish at last year’s national championships.

Left: Tyrone Halstead

Rounding out the Lions’ contingent are Georgewill, the OUA silver medallist in the weight throw, who is making his first appearance at the national championship and will be in the hammer throw event, and York Lions throws coach Parkinson, who is entered in the javelin.

The national championships are back in Toronto for the first time sine 1968. The event serves as the selection trials for the team that will travel to Berlin, Germany, to compete in the 12th International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships in Athletics from August 15 to 23.

For more information, including a complete schedule and results, visit the Canadian Track & Field Championships & World Trials Web site.