By Keaton Hills
Rising young local athletes have been treated all season long with the chance to have Lauren Gale training at their track and racing them at Twilight meets, but now the Tokyo Olympian is ready to retake her place among the country’s best at the July 27-30 Canadian Track and Field Championships in Langley, B.C.
Gale spent her early high school years at South Carleton before moving to Colorado and then starring for Colorado State University in the NCAA. She’s continued to represent the Ottawa Lions Track-and-Field Club throughout, but the member of the Canadian 4×400-metre relay team moved back to town for the most recent school year.
Studying dentistry in a good program at Algonquin College was part of the attraction to return, Gale notes.
“Ottawa has a lot of great opportunities here,” adds the 200 and 400 m specialist. “I think they have great facilities, great coaches and a lot of my friends and family are here.”
Gale is coached by the Lions’ Gordon Cavé as well as Glenroy Gilbert, Athletics Canada’s Ottawa-based head coach. Aside from a national team excursion to start the outdoor season at Louisiana State University, Gale has spent most of her year so far competing in the Lions’ weekly all-comers meets or other nearby competitions, while mixing in her studies.
“It’s pretty busy,” Gale indicates. “I think just being really present in classes, listening to all the lectures and actually taking it in and not being on my phone in class is important. Then I just come (to the track) to get some exercise and get some oxygen in my brain, which I think helps overall.”
Gale is the top-ranked Canadian athlete entered in the women’s 200 m at nationals, based on her best personal-record time of 22.82 seconds – just ahead of Ottawa native Jacqueline Madogo, who represents Royal City Athletics Club out of Guelph. Gale is also seeded second in the women’s 400 m.
The 23-year-old made her debut at the World Athletics Championships last summer in Eugene, Oregon, where she placed 25th overall in the women’s 200 m and 29th in the women’s 400 m. But she finished her meet with her foot in a walking cast and was unable to compete in the relay or the Commonwealth Games later in the summer.
Now healthy, Gale will have a chance to clinch a return trip to the Aug. 19-27 worlds in Hungary through the Canadian championships. She’ll compete in the 400 m preliminary round Friday, with the 400 finals set for Saturday. Then she’ll enter the 200 m on the final day of the championships Sunday.
The goal for nationals is to “hopefully make the podium,” states Gale, who spoke to the Ottawa Sports Pages following her final practice before leaving for B.C. Tuesday evening at Terry Fox Athletic Facility, “and just execute my race plan how my coaches have been telling me.”
There will be piles more local athletes competing at the senior and under-20 national championships in Langley.
Among those seeded in the top-3 in their events are sprinter Bianca Borgella, who is fresh off a breakout double-podium debut at the World Para Athletics Championships in Paris, Ontario U20 men’s discus and shot put champion Connor Fraser, Keira Christie-Galloway (women’s 100 m hurdles), Maria Okwechime (women’s long jump), Quinn Coughlin (U20 women’s 400 m hurdles), Elizabeth Vroom (U20 women’s 3,000 m steeplechase) and Amelia Van Brabant (U20 women’s 3,000 m).
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