Throughout his running career, Ben Flanagan has been told he stood a good chance of becoming an Olympian. It never felt closer to reality, he says, than this year.
At Drake Relays in April, Flanagan took nearly 20 seconds off his season-opening time in the 5,000 metres of 13 minutes 25.39 seconds, less than 12 seconds off the Tokyo standard with two months remaining in the qualifying period.
“It was a brief moment but [an Olympic opportunity] was right in front of my face,” Flanagan told CBC Sports last week. “I was so close and just needed to seal the deal.”On June 10, Moh Ahmed and Justyn Knight — the first and second fastest North Americans of all time in the 5,000 — ran under 13 minutes to secure two of the maximum three Olympic spots available to Canadian men in the event.
The third was up for grabs until Luc Bruchet dipped under the 13:13.50 automatic entry standard two days later, going 13:12.56 for the third fastest time ever among Canadian men.
It was decision time for Flanagan, who had already flown from his Virginia home to quarantine for 14 days in his native Kitchener, Ont., before the Olympic trials. He could either race at trials in Montreal or return to the United States to attempt the automatic entry standard. Flanagan chose the latter.
“In a championship-style race the focus is to win … so going to [Olympic trials] was going to be about winning and not necessarily chasing a fast time,” he said. “Given the bar Luc Bruchet set, I felt the only shot I had [to make the Olympic team] was to run faster.”
Flanagan entered a June 22 race in Oregon, where world-class pacesetters led the Reebok Boston Track Club athlete through 3,000 metres in Olympic standard pace. But once they dropped off, Flanagan, who had built a substantial lead, was running alone.
Missing Olympic trials ‘stung’
“Running from the front by myself is a situation I’ve always struggled with. There’s such a small margin for error and the best results in my career are when I’m racing for the win. I wasn’t able to push myself to the extent I was hoping [in order] to stay on pace,” said Flanagan, who crossed the finish line first in 13:33.90 but the time quashed any hope of making his Olympic debut in Japan next month. Flanagan is also outside the world ranking qualifying criteria.
“I haven’t been to a Canadian Olympic trials so that decision definitely stung, but I felt it was the best decision to get a spot on the team,” said Flanagan, who had planned to watch the men’s 5,000 on Saturday night at the Canadian championships, a race Mike Tate won in 14:15.93 at a rainy Claude Robillard Sports Complex in Montreal.
News source- CBC