Marathoners set to don Maple Leaf

GUELPH, ONT. – For the first time since 1996 Canada will nominate three male marathoners to the Canadian Olympic Team. Reid Coolsaet of Hamilton, Ont., Eric Gillis of Antigonish, N.S., and Dylan Wykes of Kingston, Ont., all dipped below Athletics Canada’s Olympic marathon standard of 2:11:29 before the qualifying deadline of April 22.

“The nominated roster of athletes is getting stronger practically every day,” said Mark Tewksbury, Canada’s Chef de Mission for the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team. “I’m really excited to see the team come together.”

“Being nominated to the Canadian Olympic Team is one of those memories that an athlete cherishes for the rest of their life,” said Sylvie Bernier, Assistant Chef de Mission for the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team.

“With today’s nomination, we watch as three more outstanding Canadian athletes are nominated to join the ranks of the Canadian Olympic Team,” said Canadian Olympic Committee Chief Sport Officer Caroline Assalian. “We look forward to seeing these athletes do themselves and their nation proud in London this summer.”

“The Canadian Olympic Team has a rich history in the sport of Athletics,” said Canadian Olympic Committee Vice President Gordon Peterson. “These three men have earned the right to make their own mark and make a new history of their own.”

Eric Gillis, member of the 2008 Canadian Olympic Team in the 10,000-metres, is excited for what lies ahead, “I’ll be ready for London on August 12! Beijing prepared me for what to expect, now is my opportunity to put what I’ve learned into practice. I definitely feel like the marathon is my best event and offers me the best chance to excel on the world stage. With room to improve, a healthy build-up, and with great coaching and training partners, the sky’s the limit in London.”

Skateboarder turned marathoner Reid Coolsaet is ready to take on the world after spending six weeks training with the world’s best distance runners in Kenya, “It’s great that we’ll have three runners representing Canada in at the Olympic Games in the marathon. I’m really looking forward to the coming months to maximize my training and preparation for the Games. They only come around once every four years; I want to ensure I get the most out of my body and take calculated risks to get the best finish possible.”

Dylan Wykes made the standard at the eleventh hour. He’s now looking forward to turning his full attention to being prepared for London and getting some altitude training in. “Representing Canada at the Olympic Games is a dream come true. It’s a really satisfying reward for years and years of hard work. I think the marathon in London is going to be unlike any past Olympic marathons. I expect it to be run hard from the start without many tactics being employed by the front pack.” Wykes adds “My goal is going to be to run a smart race and try to pick up the pieces in the latter stages. I haven’t sat down with my coach (Richard Lee) and set out actual place or time goals. Top 15 has a nice ring to it, top 10 even more so. I want to aim high.”

The marathon is well known as a grueling event, and neither Coolsaet, nor Gillis, nor Wykes had an easy road to qualify. Reid Coolsaet qualified at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, running 2:10:55 in less than ideal windy conditions.Eric Gillis ran under the standard at the same event. With only a few hundred metres to go in the race, he dug deep and gave it one last kick crossing the finish line with only one second to spare. Wykes made the standard on April 15, exactly one week from the qualifying deadline, at the Rotterdam Marathon in Amsterdam. Everything went right for him in Amsterdam, where he recorded the second fastest marathon time in Canadian history.

In 1996 Canada was represented in the male marathon by Bruce Deacon, Peter Fonseca and Carey Nelson. The trios’ top finisher was Peter Fonseca who placed 21st overall in a time of 2:17:28.

The complete Athletics team will be nominated to the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team after the completion of the Track & Field Trials June 27 – 30 in Calgary, Alta.