Young Canadian sprinter on fast track

DAVE FULLER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:15 AM ET

When it seemed like the fate of the Canadian track and field universe wrested only with world-class hurdlers — Perdita and Priscilla — along comes Christian Brennan to restore our faith.

She is 15, from Waterdown, Ont., and, from the looks of it, Brennan might be Canadian track’s future. At least a sizeable portion.

She virtually guaranteed it Friday night, with an astounding third-place finish in the women’s 200 metres final at the Canadian track and field championships at Toronto’s Varsity Centre. While not expected to be a podium threat this early — as we mentioned, she’s only 15 — Brennan torched the majority of mostly adult sprinters she faced this week, barely failing to qualify for Saturday’s 400 metres final as well. Given that the fastest women sprinters in Canada attended this meet, that’s borderline shocking.

But minor-league stuff , nevertheless compared to her next goal — qualifying for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games at London when she’ll be a mere 17.

Brennan, who only last month, graduated from Grade 9 at Hamilton St. Mary’s high school, had not, until Friday, shared that vision with her parents, Chris and Diane. But Diane sheepishly admitted the notion had crossed her mind, too. Dad Chris said anything is possible given that their daughter sets a new personal best every time she enters a meet. Well, almost.

It didn’t happen this week. But when you’re just a kid, racing against Canada’s elite sprinters, when you’re competing on a national stage in front of a coast-to-coast television audience, it must be a bit overwhelming.

“I was nervous coming here but my coach (Hamilton Olympic Club’s George Kerr) helped me relax,” Brennan said.

“I like this track. The stands are only on one side. Some stadiums have crowds all around and it’s more intimidating.”

As for the reception she has received from her vastly more experienced competitors ...

“I think they treat me the exact way they treat anyone else,” she said. “They’re nice.”

Remarkably, Brennan started entering elite meets only last summer and, wouldn’t you know it, she copped a bronze medal in the 400 at the national youth championships in Sherbrooke, Que.

Her rivals were mostly 16- and 17-year-olds. Brennan was 14.

While that event went largely unnoticed by the rest of us, last month’s OFSAA high school championships in London, earned her province-wide headlines. It wasn’t so much that she won three gold medals (100, 200 and 400 metres) in the midget age group, but that her times would have garnered her medals in the senior girls sprints, as well. In fact, her time of 55.95 in the 400 preliminaries was faster than anyone ran in the senior’s girls final.

More recently, Brennan ran a personal best 23.95 in the 200 at the Athletics Ontario bantam and midget championships, shattering the meet record previously held by former Olympian Angela Bailey for going on 30 years.

So, now when Brennan shows up for an event — even one as big as this week’s Canadians — there is chatter.

“When I come to meets now, I have coaches and people coming up and say: ‘Oh, you’re Christian Brennan,” she allowed, ever so shyly.

Meanwhile, Brennan returns to the national youth championships next week in Ottawa — a year older, a year wiser and a lot stronger.

And then, of course, there are those other Games, two years down the road in England.

“I want to go to the Olympics in two years but I don’t know if I’ll make it,” she said. “That would be cool (if I did).”

Canadians, too, would have someone other that hurdling divas Priscilla Lopes-Schliep and Perdita Felicien to pump their fists about.


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