Hamil­ton’s Ro­maniw qual­i­fies for Olympics in 800m

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - STEVE MIL­TON Needed sec­ond con­tin­ues // S6

When An­thony Ro­maniw crossed the fin­ish line on Sun­day with fel­low Hamil­to­nian Robert Hep­pen­stall just be­hind him and only Cana­dian cham­pion Bran­don McBride ahead of him, he knew he was Rio bound.

“But it was too much to ac­tu­ally process at the mo­ment,” he tells The Spec­ta­tor of the berth in the Olympic men’s 800 me­tres race he earned at the Cana­dian Track and Field Cham­pi­onships in Ed­mon­ton over the week­end.

“I crossed the line and I didn’t know what I was ex­pect­ing to feel but I didn’t feel that much. I couldn’t get my head around it. It’s enor­mous.

“I re­mem­ber when I was young, be­fore I was run­ning, watch­ing the Olympics, and think­ing ‘I’d like to do that.’ So what would a younger An­thony Ro­maniw feel? I was try­ing to get into that head space. I want to be the kid about it that I was back then. But it’s still too big to get my head around.”

He’ll get his head around it. He’s al­ready sought coun­sel from his par­ents Gene and Sherry and other ath­letes with Olympic ex­pe­ri­ence. The 24-year-old Hamil­to­nian has a his­tory of ris­ing to the chal­lenge, in triple-A hockey, at St. Thomas More, at Dart­mouth and at the Univer­sity of Guelph, where he won sev­eral Cana­dian In­teruni­ver­sity Sport medals on the track, in­clud­ing three golds in 2013, the same year he was sev­enth in the World Univer­si­ade.

Ro­maniw came into the na­tional cham­pi­onships and Olympic tri­als need­ing to fin­ish sec­ond or bet­ter in the 800 me­tres to guar­an­tee a spot on the team. He’d “just squeaked” un­der the qual­i­fy­ing stan­dard of 1:46.0 by run­ning 1:45.94 in Port­land last month.

If he’d fin­ished be­low sec­ond at Ed­mon­ton, but still in the top eight, he’d have had to go to stage two of qual­i­fy­ing, with a se­lec­tion com­mit­tee choos­ing from the pool of ath­letes.

He took that de­ci­sion out of their hands by fin­ish­ing sec­ond.

Third-place Hep­pen­stall, who went to St. Thomas More a few years af­ter Ro­maniw and was coached at one point by Gene Ro­maniw, had al­ready qual­i­fied for the world ju­nior cham­pi­onships in Poland July 22. Phil Steel, Hep­pen­stall’s coach also coached Ro­maniw as a ju­nior.

“Robert and I are pretty close, and he was run­ning bet­ter than me at the start of the year,” Ro­maniw says.

“It was weird. Four years ago at the tri­als, who’d have thought that the guy who was stand­ing in my way for the Olympic was a guy coached by my dad?”

In his ear­lier years Ro­maniw was coached not only by his fa­ther but also briefly by his older brother Chris. He says that Hamil­ton is fer­tile breed­ing ground for mid­dledis­tance and dis­tance run­ners be­cause “there is no rea­son to leave to train. There are good coaches, and there are great places to run: around Mac and Dun­das, and in Stoney Creek. We used to run the Par­adise stairs all the time. And there is a lot of his­tory of run­ning there: the old­est race over 10 kilo­me­tres (Around The Bay), the in­door meet at Copps Coli­seum.”

The world and Olympic record for the men’s 800 was set by Kenyan David Rud­isha in Lon­don four years ago at 1:40.91, over four sec­onds be­low Ro­maniw’s best.

“My goal for Rio is just to be in good shape and head space when I get there,” he says. “With the ex­cep­tion of a few, on any given day any­body can beat any­body in the 800. I think if I run the pre­lims well, I think I can make it to the semi­fi­nals. I’d like to get to the fi­nals and then, in the 800, any­thing can hap­pen.” TRACK NOTE: Robert Hep­pen­stall has left for the world ju­nior cham­pi­onships. Car­di­nal New­man grad Taysia Ra­doslav also left, for the North Amer­i­can Cen­tral Amer­i­can and Caribbean Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion cham­pi­onships in El Sal­vador. She was sixth in the 400-me­tre hur­dles on the week­end at the Cana­dian na­tional se­nior track and field cham­pi­onships.


An­thony Ro­maniw leads the field at an 800m event. Ro­maniw, a Hamil­ton na­tive, will race at the Rio Olympics.

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