Crew’s feat the best medicine

Sick coach watches from his room as Brit­tany makes his­tory for Canada in women’s shot put

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - LORI EWING

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.

MATT DUN­HAM, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Canada’s Brit­tany Crew pushes the power but­ton dur­ing the world ath­let­ics cham­pi­onships in Lon­don on Wed­nes­day. She fin­ished sixth.

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