Sisters DeBues-Stafford & Stafford advance into 1500m semifinals
After Day 3 concluded with Canada’s first medal in athletics, it was time for the Canadian distance crew to take the spotlight.
Leading Canada onto the track was Gabriela DeBues-Stafford in round one of the women’s 1500m. The Canadian record holder in the event (3:56.12) showed off her strength in the distance, cruising over the finish to win her heat with a time of 4:03.70. With her first Tokyo 2020 race completed, DeBues-Stafford’s focus is onto the next round.
“I have my eyes set on something big in the finals, so I’m happy that I got the first round done and I felt really good doing it,” said DeBues-Stafford.
“I didn’t know what the time was and I thought, ‘oh, this is feeling like a little bit of effort.’ I wasn’t expecting it to be that fast. I felt like 4:03 and I felt really good, and to do it from the front and to control it the way I did. I’m very pleased with that.”
Lucia Stafford one upped her sister in her first Olympic race, stopping the clock at 4:03.52 in the third heat for a new personal best. The duo will enter the semifinal round with the seventh and eighth fastest times among qualifiers.
“I got a huge PB, it was awesome. Honestly, I’m just happy I gave it my all and ran a good race, the rest is a bonus,” a smiling Lucia Stafford said following her Olympic debut.
In the sprints, Crystal Emmanuel kept the momentum going in the qualifying round of the women’s 200m. Winning her heat with a season’s best time of 22.74, the Canadian record holder (22.50) advanced into the semifinals. But after finishing sixth in her semifinal, Emmanuel would not move onto the final.
Alysha Newman and Anicka Newell got their Tokyo 2020 underway in the qualification round of women’s pole vault. Newman was unable to clear 4.25m and will not move on. Newell made her first clearance at 4.40m before rain interrupted the competition. But when it resumed, so did her momentum. She added a first attempt clearance at 4.55m and will move onto the final.
Back on the track, Sage Watson battled the rain in the 400m hurdles semifinals, bettering her qualifying time as she clocked 55.51s but will not advance to the women’s final.
Matt Hughes and John Gay held their own in the men’s 3000m steeplechase final. Hughes, with a late charge with 400m to go, finished in sixth with a time of 8:16.03 (the highest ever by a Canadian in the event), while Gay’s 8:35.41 put him 15th overall at his first Olympic Games.
“I’m content with that, happy too,” Hughes reflects. “You look at the way my season started, mentally, physically I wasn’t in a great spot. I can’t be disappointed in that.”
For the final track event of the night, Andrea Seccafien closed out the rainy evening session with time of 15:12.09 in the women’s 5000m final.