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Elizabeth Gleadle, Canada's javelin record holder, won't take easy route

07/20/2015 02:49 EDT | Updated 07/20/2016 05:59 EDT
Javelin thrower Elizabeth Gleadle has already accomplished a lot as the reigning Canadian record holder and the country's first woman to qualify for an Olympic final in the event since 1968. But she doesn't seem satisfied.

Since that 12th-place finish at the London 2012 Games, Gleadle has dealt with some major setbacks. A back injury kept her out for the entire 2013 season and forced the 26-year-old to reevaluate her goals. 

"I learned how much I wanted it," said Gleadle, who is from Vancouver and competes for the Chinook Track and Field Club under the direction of coach Larry Steinke. "I find you take it for granted when you're really healthy. I had to relearn how to walk properly and how to push off my feet properly.

"It was a complete overhaul of the movement patterns in my body. I learned that technique and proper movement beats strength."

The rehabilitation and changes to her approach to the sport have paid off. She is currently ranked fifth in the world and broke her own Canadian record in May with a throw of 64.83m.

Gleadle is in a strong position and is full of confidence ahead of Tuesday's Pan Am Games event. 

"It is a very high intensity setting. I'm aiming to do well here. I have the same mentality that I'm going to try to win and try to compete."

World record within sight

But like most athletes, every event and every practice is setting her on the path to next summer. 

"This time I feel like I deserve to be here. I feel like there's some kind of shame to a lot of Canadians to say that they want a medal at the Olympics, like they're bragging or something. I think it's important to put out a big goal. What's the point in trying for less?"

She will be looking to gain metres, not centimetres, en route to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Her ultimate goal is to set the world record, which has remained at 72.28 metres since 2008. 

Gleadle believes the record and podium are within her reach, having found recent success despite fighting to overcome her injury. 

"I'm tall, I'm strong and I could be a heck of a lot faster. When that does happen every bit of speed will add to lots of untold metres," said Gleadle.

She will get her shot at showing Canada what they have to look forward to when the javelin final gets underway Tuesday — the first event on the program at 10 a.m. ET. You can watch it live streamed at cbc.ca/panam and on the CBC Sports app.

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