Guelph runners make Olympic marathon team
Source: Guelph Sports Info
It's been 12 years since a Canadian appeared in the Olympic marathon, and now two runners with ties to the University of Guelph will line up in London this summer.
The 2012 men's Canadian Olympic marathon team announced today
U of G graduate Reid Coolsaet and Eric Gillis. Both are elite members of the Speed River Track and Field Club in Guelph.
The Speed River club — considered the most successful running club in Canada — is led by Dave Scott-Thomas, head coach of U of G's track and field and cross-country teams.
The club's prowess drew the Canadian Olympic Committee and Athletics Canada to Guelph to introduce the 2012 marathon team.
"It's a feather in our cap," Scott-Thomas said. "We recognize that we are a small city and a medium-sized university, and for the Olympic committee to mobilize and bring everyone here for the announcement is a gesture of respect for our program and for what Reid and Eric have accomplished."
Coolsaet, a 2002 B.Comm. graduate, cracked the marathon qualifying time of 2:11:30 at the 2010 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. He placed third at last year's race with a personal best time of 2:10:55.
As a Guelph Gryphon, Coolsaet was a six-time All-Canadian and seven-time member of the national track and field team, and was twice named U of G's male Athlete of the Year. He was a track and field gold medalist in Canadian Interuniversity Sport, a World University Games 5000m silver medalist, and a 10-time national champion in cross-country and track and field.
Gillis qualified for the Olympic team at the 2011 Toronto Scotiabank marathon, running one second under the qualifying mark. This will be the second Olympic appearance for Gillis, who ran the 10-kilometre race in Beijing in 2008. Originally from Nova Scotia, he trained at St. Francis Xavier University.
Coached by Scott-Thomas, both runners represented Canada at the 2002 World Student Games in Spain.
The third Olympic marathoner on Canada's 2012 team is Dylan Wykes, a Vancouver-based runner originally from Kingston, Ont. He is a graduate of Providence College and Queen's University.
"He's a good friend of our program," Scott-Thomas said, adding that Wykes, Gillis and Coolsaet trained together earlier this year in Arizona.
Other members of the Olympic track and field team are expected to be announced in late June. "We look forward to adding more Guelph people in other events," Scott-Thomas said.
Thursday's marathon team announcement was made at U of G's Alumni Stadium, where an ongoing $4.9-million renovation will include a new eight-lane track facility certified by the International Association of Athletics Federations.
The city and the University will host internationally accredited events at the new facility, which has been supported through donations from elite athletes, community members, alumni, family, friends and businesses.
Coolsaet pledged $10,000 of his winnings from last year's Scotiabank marathon to the project.
Last year, the University announced a $1.5-million anonymous donation toward installation of a new synthetic turf field and to begin track and lighting renovations under the athletics master plan to upgrade all of the University's athletic facilities.
The University will seek additional funding from private donors, grants and other sources to cover the remaining costs of the projects.
Officials hope to have the new facilities ready for the fall semester, before the Gryphons' football home opener Sept. 15.