'Nova's Reid makes Team Canada at last minute
She won the Canadian Olympic Trials at 5,000 meters. She’s a two-time Canadian national champion and a multiple NCAA champion in both track and cross country champ. She just missed the Olympic “A” standard despite racing at altitude in Calgary, where times are always slower.
Villanova’s Sheila Reid is clearly and overwhelmingly Canada’s fastest 5,000-meter runner.
It wasn’t enough to make her an Olympian.
After Reid fell a few agonizing seconds shy of the Olympic “A” standard and had run the “B” standard just once, which left her short automatically qualifying for Canada’s Olympic team, she was notified late last month by officials of Athletics Canada she would not represent Canada in the Olympics.
She appealed the decision but was denied.
Reid spent the past year racing for Villanova instead of going around the country chasing fast times. She chose to anchor Villanova’s winning distance medley at the Penn Relays instead of jumping in the super-fast 5,000 at the Payton Jordan meet at Stanford. She put team goals ahead of individual goals, and it looked like her dedication and loyalty to Villanova track would cost her an Olympic berth.
Just when the 23-year-old Reid thought her Olympic cause was hopeless and figured she’d have to wait until 2016 to try to make her first Olympic team, she finally got some good news.
At the last possible moment.
Reid learned Thursday that a second appeal, her final possible appeal, to an independent appeals board had been approved on the grounds that Reid’s body of work met Athletics Canada’s criteria for Canada’s “Rising Star” program, which allows young athletes who haven’t quite met Canada’s standards to compete in the Olympics.
“I’m relieved and excited,” Reid said. “This season has been more challenging than ones in the past. I had my collegiate obligations while also trying to satisfy the Olympic standards. I feel like it would be hard to have everything and I was very disappointed in my collegiate season. This is nice way to kind of sum everything up, to know that all the hard work I did before this wasn’t for nothing.
“I think anyone who knows me and knows the kind of racer I am, knows I race to win. When you kind of chase the times it makes it kind of a different race. I’m just excited because I know that now that I have made it to this stage, I know I can kind of do my best and just run for place instead of just time.”
Reid becomes Villanova’s third track Olympian who will compete in London. Adrian Blincoe will represent New Zealand in the men’s 5,000 and Marina Muncan will represent Serbia in the women’s 1,500.
Reid, a native of Newmarket, Ontario, has personal bests of 4:07.77 in the 1,500, set on June 21 at the Summer Nights series in San Diego, and 15:23.64, set on April 20 at Mt. SAC in Walnut, Calif.
In announcing the addition of Reid and four others to the Canadian Olympic team, Athletics Canada on Thursday released this statement:
“Sheila Reid submitted an appeal for Rising Star consideration based on winning the Canadian Track and Field Trials in the 5000-metres and having an Olympic B standard in the event. Sheila also has two Olympic B standards in the 1500-metres. Reid was the national champion in the 1500-metres in 2011 and is a five time NCAA champion demonstrating her ability to compete on demand in championship races.
“The National Team Committee was willing to nominate her in the 5000-metres pending a competitive readiness test which she successfully completed earlier this week.”
The Olympic track competition begins in London on Aug. 3, and the first round of the women’s 5,000 is scheduled for Aug. 7.
“I am thrilled that Sheila will get to compete in an Olympic Games at such a young age,” Villanova women’s track coach Gina Procaccio said. “The experience will be invaluable to her future success.”E-mail Reuben Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org