3 female athletes from B.C. earn spots on Canada's marathon team for Tokyo Olympics
VANCOUVER -- It’s been seventeen years since Malindi Elmore earned a spot on Canada’s Olympic team, and she’s looking forward to competing again.
“I certainly never expected I would be making an Olympic team in 2021,” said Elmore.
The 40-year-old from Kelowna, B.C. ran the 1,500 metre race at the 2004 Athens Olympics, then retired from track in 2012 and became a world-class Ironman triathlete.
Elmore broke the Canadian marathon record in January 2020 in Houston, Texas, six weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic was declared.
“That was a really tough Spring and Summer for everybody, and as runners, we had to pivot away from running and adjust to the new realities.”
Elmore, along with Natasha Wodak and Dana Pidhoresky, have all been nominated by Athletics Canada to represent the country’s national marathon team in Tokyo this summer - all three women are from B.C. It’s also the first time six marathoners (three men and three women) have been nominated to compete at the Olympic Games, according to Athletics Canada.
“It’s such an honour, especially since there was only five women that qualified,” said Wodak.
Elmore and Wodak have been running together since high school. Over twenty years later, they are still considered the best in the world.
“The cool thing about this sport is that you can join it later in life. Now I’m sitting here at 39, Malindi is 40 and we’re going to the Olympics, pretty cool!” Wodak said.
Wodak, who has raced at three world championships in the 10,000 metres, did not hit her qualifying time for Tokyo until December of 2020, as she was originally trying to qualify for the 10,000 metre run.
“People say there is a marathon bug and it bit me. I really enjoyed it,” she said.
Wodak and Elmore will be on a strict training schedule before they depart for Japan – although it is still not clear when that will be.
“For the marathon, or any of the distance events, you really want to be prepared for the heat, so you want to get there a minimum 12-14 days before the race day.”
According to the most updated Olympic playbook, athletes are permitted to arrive in the Olympic Village (Tokyo and Sapporo) five days prior to the start of their first event.
Athletics Canada later clarified with CTV News Vancouver that all athletes who are part of the Canadian athletics team have been invited to Gifu, another city in Japan, for a pre-games training camp.
“Each athlete, along with their personal coach, will work with our high performance coaching team to determine what is best for them in terms of travel, arrival in Gifu as well as in the village,” said Amanda Nigh, Manager, Communications & Marketing, Athletics Canada.
The Canadian Olympic Committee will send some 400 athletes and the Canadian Paralympic Committee about 130. The International Olympic Committee playbook also states that athletes will not be required to have a vaccine in order to participate in the Games.
In a statement to CTV News, the Canadian Olympic Committee said it’s encouraging all athletes, coaches, and medical staff to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“We are working with our partners in the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network to provide pop-up vaccination clinics for all athletes and mission team members to mitigate pressure on the public health system. ”
With the arrival date still a work in progress, both Malindi and Wodak said they feel confident with the safety measures in place.
“It's going to look very different from a typical Olympics, and at this point, we're just doing our best to keep everybody safe and hopefully have the opportunity to perform,” added Malindi.