Team Yukon will quite literally be in the running for a medal on Thursday.
On Monday, athletics team runner Logan Roots of Whitehorse qualified for the A final in the 1,500-metre race at the Canada Summer Games.
His achievement is no small one. It is possibly the first time a Yukon athlete has made a Canada Games final on the track or in any athletics event at a major Games, said head coach Don White.
“As far as I know of, it’s a first,” said White, who has been head coach of Yukon’s track teams since 1993. “We’ve had other runners who have been talented, but we’ve never had the opportunity to get into the A final.”
The 20-year-old posted a personal best time of 4:00.55 to qualify in the 12th and final spot in the final. He shaved four seconds off his personal best set at a meet in Kelowna at the end of June.
“I was really hoping to go under four minutes and I was half a second over that,” said Roots. “But now I’m happy I get another shot at it.”
The Canada Games’ online records are spotty beyond 2005. Results from the 1990s and beyond still only exist in paper form. It would likely take well beyond a week to confirm if another Yukoner has reached a final, a media relations person from the Games told the News.
“I’ve been taking teams out since 1993 and this is the first time since I’ve been involved at a major event that we made a final,” added White.
A medal would be Yukon’s first in athletics and seventh in history. Roots is also set to race in the 5,000-metre on Friday.
“I’m feeling like I can run another personal best,” said Roots. “I’m not looking at what everybody else is going to run, I’m just going to see what I can run.”
Yukon’s athletics team has been sharing in a bunch of firsts at the Games. This week marks the first time – at least in recent decades – Yukon competed in discus, javelin and steeplechase.
Yukon was represented in the 3,000-metre steeplechase event Tuesday evening by Kieran Halliday, Yukon’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremonies of the Games.
“I thought it went really well,” said Halliday. “I do train for it at school (in Vancouver).”
Halliday, who also competed in tennis last week, placed 12th out of 16 runners with a time of 10:02.02.
With 15 athletes on the roster, Yukon’s team is the largest since the 1989 Games in Saskatoon.
Sherbrooke also represents the first time Yukoners are competing in field events since two athletes competed in long jump at the 2005 Games in Regina.
Yukon’s Anna Rivard and Emily Oettli competed in long jump on Tuesday. Neither made finals.
“I got four metres and 96 centimetres, so .04 away from my goal, but that’s OK because each jump was farther and farther,” said Rivard.
Oettli is also competing in javelin and discus this week. White has seen Yukoners compete in shot put, but no other throwing events since he’s been around.
“The javelin was really cool to watch because everyone has a different technique,” said Oettli. “It’s really good for me to watch so I can try different things out and see what’s best for me.
“Some of these girls have been doing it for four years, I just started three months ago.”
However, the Yukon team has had problems with injuries. Both Rivard and Oettli are dealing with muscle strains.
Scott Peterson, Yukon’s top 100-metre man at the Games, pulled his hamstring at the start of his first race on Monday.
He’s out for the rest of the Games, but is not heartbroken over it.
“I’m disappointed, but at the same time it’s Canada Games – it’s an experience even if you’re not competing,” said Peterson.
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