SPORTS

Training partners Weir and Young look to break 20-second barrier in Edmonton

06/27/2013 04:15 EDT | Updated 08/27/2013 05:12 EDT
EDMONTON - When Warren Weir finished third in the 200 metres at the 2012 London Olympics — giving Jamaica a sweep of the medals — he didn't feel he got the credit he deserved. So he decided he needed to send the world a message.

He did that on June 23 at the Jamaican track and field championships, winning the event in 19.79, a mark that equalled what was then the year's fastest time set 10 days earlier by countryman and Olympic champion Usain Bolt.

"A lot of people said the medal in London was because it was not a strong field," the 23-year-old Weir said Thursday ahead of Saturday's Edmonton International Track Classic. "So I was trying to say I am a force to be reckoned with. I think Jamaica and the world got the message."

On that same day, however, American Tyson Gay ran a blistering 19.74 in Des Moines, Iowa, to set the existing year's-best mark. Bolt has the world record of 19.19, set in 2009.

"I was like, 'That's pretty good,'" Weir said of Gay's time. "To know Tyson came off surgery and ran so fast was like an inspiration to me. I looked at myself and said, 'Boy, Tyson can come off injury and run so fast, that ability is in everybody.'"

Nicknamed the "Weir-wolf" — an obvious choice given his last name and the fact he was born on Halloween — Weir's toughest challenge on Saturday is expected to come from countryman and training partner Jason Young. While Weir is ranked third in the world this year, behind Gay and Bolt, Young is ranked 12th with a seasonal best time of 20.20.

Young has a personal best time of 19.86, set in July 2012 when he beat Weir in Switzerland, about an hour after he had run a PB 10.06 in the 100 metres. It was an unbelievable feeling to break the 20-second barrier.

"Even sometimes this season, I'm like, 'Man I ran 19.8,'" he said.

As for going head-to-head with Weir on Saturday, Young said the two just go into the starting blocks "to put on a show and have some fun."

And if they push each other, both men agree, it could result in the first sub-20-second 200-metre race ever run in Canada.

The one-day event, part of the National Track League series, has attracted 44 Olympians, including six medallists.

Among the other big-name athletes are Paul Kipsiele Koech of Kenya, the 2012 IAAF Diamond League 3,000-metre steeplechase champion, American Jason Richardson, reigning 110-metre hurdles world champion and Olympic silver medallist, Sanya Richards-Ross of the U.S., the 400-metre Olympic champion and Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic, who became the youngest 400-metre Olympic medallist when he won silver in 2012 at the age of 18.

There are also several Canadians on the bill, including hurdlers Jessica Zelinka of London, Ont., and Angela Whyte of Edmonton, and shot putter Dylan Armstrong of Kamloops, B.C.

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