CALGARY - The Canadian bobsled team already stole Jesse Lumsden from the Calgary Stampeders.
So why not raid the national track team as well?
Nine-time Canadian hurdles champion Perdita Felicien had barely touched down in the Stampede City when she was recruited for the winter sport.
“This guy saw me at practice one day and was really amazed,” said Felicien, one of the biggest names competing at this week’s Canadian Track and Field Championships & World Trials at Foothills Athletic Park.
“It was funny because it was my first day in Calgary.
“How crazy would that be? I moved here to train for track and then Athletics Canada loses out because I move over to bobsled.
“Wouldn’t that be cruel and ironic?”
Felicien moved from Pickering, Ont., to Calgary in April to train with Canadian heptathlete Jessica Zelinka.
And Felicien quickly quashed any rumours she would abandon the track to begin pushing a sled at Canada Olympic Park.
“No, I have no intention of bobsledding,” she said. “Not right now, at least.
“There’s a nice marriage between sprinters and the bobsled, but 2012 is my goal. Sochi is 2014? Maybe, but highly unlikely.”
Felicien, the 2003 world champion, is chasing her 10th national crown. Quite a feat for a sport dominated by youth.
“It means I’ve had some staying power and signifies I’ve been on top for quite a few years. It also tells my age,” she said with a chuckle.
“It’s kind of surreal I’ve lasted this long. The landscape changes so much in track. There’s injuries and other things that take you away from the sport. But that I’ve been focused and committed to it this long, it makes me smile.”
Zelinka also has an immediate goal in her sights this week as she tries to set a Canadian championship heptathlon record.
Two-time Olympian Catherine Bond-Mills set the current mark during her spectacular career (1989-99) and Zelinka hopes to break it when she begins competing Wednesday.
“I’ve gone past it, but not at the Canadian championships,” Zelinka said of her overall Canadian record of 6,490 points.
“I’m feeling good this year and it’s just one of those records that needs to go.”
Zelinka, a six-time Canadian champion, took some time away from the track to start a family.
But shortly after daughter Anika was born in 2009, she was back at it. If anything, the toddler is helping her stay in shape these days.
“She’s at that stage now where she’s a real busy-body,” Zelinka said.
Canada’s top athletes will be competing at the completely revamped Foothills park.
Zelinka’s looking forward to using the new facility.
“It just opened today so I’m going to check it out and do some warmups,” she said. “I’ve heard amazing things about it.”
Calgary sprinter Sam Effah — the fastest man in Canada — can’t wait to tear up the new surface in front of a hometown crowd.
“I get to have all my supporters come out,” Effah said. “All the people who believed in me get to see it first-hand.
“It’s just going to give me the extra push I need.”
The University of Calgary student has a personal best of 10.06 seconds in the 100m, a time that has put him on the international map.
“To see that time, it was crazy, it was exciting,” Effah said.
“But, at the same time, I knew my training had got to that point. We had been training at that level the week prior so it wasn’t a huge surprise. But it was exciting to see on paper.”