Crew’s feat the best medicine
Sick coach watches from his room as Brittany makes history for Canada in women’s shot put
LONDON — Brittany Crew planned to stay up until the wee hours after making women’s shot put history for Canada at the world track and field championships.
At 3 a.m., she could finally share a celebratory hug with her coach.
The 23-year-old from Toronto, who was the first Canadian woman to ever compete in a world shot put final, threw 18.21 metres to finish sixth on a cold and soggy night Wednesday.
But her coach, Richard Parkinson, had to watch history unfold on a makeshift video feed, quarantined in his hotel room with the norovirus that has struck nine Canadian athletes and staff.
“It was sad because I want him to be here. We’ve done this together,” Crew said.
Parkinson’s 48-hour quarantine ended at 3 a.m. Thursday (local time).
“I wish I was there to feel the excitement of the stadium and the crowd,” Parkinson said from the central London hotel where more than 30 athletes from several teams have fallen ill.
“But I think tonight’s competition shows that there will be plenty more opportunities in the future for me and Canadians to cheer on Brittany.”
Crew threw 17.52 on her first attempt. Her best throw of 18.21 came on her second attempt. Just like he did for Tuesday night’s qualifying round, Parkinson relayed coaching tips through an elaborate chain of Canadian team members.
The team’s biomechanist Dana Way shot video with his high-definition camera, then played it back, shooting the screen with his smartphone. He in turn sent the video to Parkinson.
Parkinson then texted his thoughts to shot putter Tim Nedow, who sat in the stadium’s coach section. He’d relay the comments to Crew.
Parkinson’s wife and CTV News anchor Andria Case was in the crowd at London Stadium.
“I actually heard her today. She’s that loud,” Crew laughed. “She’s just there to keep me calm, keep me happy, joke around.”
Gong Lijiao, a 28-year-old from China, threw 19.94 metres for the victory.
Crew has come a long way in a short time. She battled depression after an elbow injury at Eastern Michigan University ended her season. She moved back to Toronto, but was going nowhere in the sport, working two jobs — McDonalds and Loblaws — and partying two much.
She turned things around, joining Parkinson’s throws group at York University.
Crew, who’s been five foot 10 since Grade 6, grew up playing soccer, and was hesitant to throw the shot.
“I didn’t want to be in a male-dominated sport, I didn’t want to get bullied,” she said.
Canada’s Brittany Crew pushes the power button during the world athletics championships in London on Wednesday. She finished sixth.