De­fend­ing cham­pion misses the podium

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - LORI EW­ING

LON­DON — On a mag­i­cal night two years ago in Bei­jing, Shawn Bar­ber could do noth­ing wrong. A col­lege kid car­ry­ing zero ex­pec­ta­tions, he soared freely over bar af­ter bar un­til gold was in his grasp.

His pole vault vic­tory at the 2015 world track and field cham­pi­onships was the coun­try’s first in 12 years, and a punc­tu­a­tion mark on a spectacular eight-medal per­for­mance for Canada.

Two years later, Bar­ber will leave Lon­don empty-handed, fin­ish­ing eighth on Tues­day night.

And at the half­way point of the world cham­pi­onships, a Cana­dian team that has suf­fered a string of bad luck re­mains without a medal. “We’ve strug­gled a bit as a team, had some losses here and there. But I’m con­fi­dent that our team is go­ing to come back stronger,” Bar­ber said hope­fully.

Matt Hughes’ sixth-place Tues­day in the 3,000-me­tre steeple­chase is Canada’s top fin­ish. Bran­don McBride was eighth in the men’s 800 me­tres, while Liz Glea­dle was 12th in javelin.

Bar­ber cleared 5.65 me­tres by a hair on his third at­tempt. The bar wob­bled badly but man­aged to stay. He missed on all three at­tempts at 5.75 — what would have been his sea­son’s best — to fin­ish eighth. Amer­i­can Sam Ken­dricks took the gold with 5.95.

“I think it’s just be­tween the ears for me,” said the 23-year-old from Toronto.

“The weather was good, the at­mos­phere was good, I just couldn’t line ev­ery­thing up the way I needed to.”

Bar­ber’s Cana­dian record is 5.93 set in 2015. The last two years have pre­sented some weighty chal­lenges for the six-foot-one red­head, who grew up in the U.S. and starred for the Univer­sity of Akron. He had a dis­as­trous com­pe­ti­tion at last sum­mer’s Rio Olympics as he strug­gled in heavy wind and rain en route to a 10th-place fin­ish.

A cou­ple months later, news broke that he had tested pos­i­tive for co­caine be­fore the Olympics, but was spared a sus­pen­sion when an in­de­pen­dent ar­bi­tra­tor ruled Bar­ber had ac­ci­den­tally in­gested the drug. Bar­ber said it hap­pened while he was kiss­ing a wo­man.

Bar­ber and McBride bumped into each other in the me­dia in­ter­view area. “How’d you do?” McBride asked. “Eighth, you?” “Eighth.” They laughed half-heart­edly.

The Cana­dian team has had zero luck in Lon­don, start­ing when An­dre De Grasse tore his ham­string in train­ing. Then Olympic and world cham­pion Derek Drouin dropped out with an Achilles in­jury. Aaron Brown was dis­qual­i­fied in the 200 me­tres. And nine ath­letes and team mem­bers have fallen ill with norovirus.

Hughes, a 28-year-old from Oshawa, matched his fin­ish from the 2013 world cham­pi­onships, but his time of 8:21.84 was 10 sec­onds slower than the Cana­dian record he ran four years ago in Moscow.

Sage Wat­son of Medicine Hat, Alta., qual­i­fied for the fi­nal in the women’s 400-me­tre hur­dles.

Shawn Bar­ber of Toronto fin­ished eighth.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.