Sheila Reid will run in the London Olympics, after all.
Megan Brown and Sheila Reid.
CALGARY -- Megan Brown (right) of Puslinch and Sheila Reid of Newmarket race in the women's 5,000 metres final at the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic track and field trials Friday night at Calgary. Brown finished second, 1.21 seconds behind Reid. June 29, 2012
Rob Massey / Metroland
The Newmarket resident is among five athletes Athletics Canada added to its 45-member roster being unveiled Thursday by the Canadian Olympic Committee, ending an appeal process that started shortly after she won the 5,000 metres at the Canadian track and field championships June 29 in Calgary.
Despite winning the race, Reid had not achieved Athletics Canada standards during the extended qualifying period. That requirement included a national championship and two races completed within B standard times. Reid had one such race time to her credit for the 5,000 metres and two at 1,500 metres, arguably her best event.
After her initial appeal for Rising Star consideration was denied that night by Athletics Canada, it went to a three-member independent panel and ultimately to the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada.
She was resigned to the notion that her hopes for an Olympic debut would have to wait until at least 2016.
“Once we heard back from the second appeal, I just wanted to put it to rest,” Reid said yesterday from Philadelphia, where she is a graduating student at Villanova University. “I didn’t know the decision was still being worked over.
“There were definitely times I felt it was hard to keep fighting. It wasn’t that I didn’t deserve to go, but it would have been nicer if my legs did the talking for me. In the end, it’s a relief I didn’t have to fight my way on to the team.
“At first, I took it personally, but I don’t think it was meant that way and I’m glad they looked it over.”
In a sport typically dominated by athletes from East African nations, Reid knows she faces a tough task starting with the preliminaries Aug. 7. The final is Aug. 10.
“I don’t want to put myself in the category that I’m just happy to be there,” said the 22-year-old graduate of Sacred Heart Catholic High School in Newmarket. “I don’t want to go just for an experience, but to prove I am among the best athletes in this sport in the world. There are people there I know I can be competitive with.
“The whole thing is a total trip. I’ve dreamed of this since watching my first Olympics in 1996. It’s the highest stage we can be on in our sport.”
She credits the diligence of Athletics Toronto coach Hugh Cameron, Villanova head coach Gina Procaccio and her father, Tom, for pursuing the issue through the appeal process.
“(Athletics Canada) were just doing their job,” said Cameron, who also coached Reid as a member of the Newmarket Huskies Track Club. “The onus was on us to convince them to change their minds.”
In the end, Athletics Canada dropped its opposition to Reid’s inclusion.
“Rather than dispute the appeal, Athletics Canada agreed with us that Sheila had a pretty good case to be included,” Tom Reid said. “I think, in the end, they want her on the team.”
Last night, Reid flew to Europe, where she will prepare for the 5,000-metre qualifying race with prep races in Belgium and Italy, before heading to Team Canada’s training base in Germany.
“I was going to Europe for races anyway,” she said. “I just need a bigger suitcase.”
In Europe, she’ll run in 1,500 races in Belgium and Italy to get in a bit of speed work prior to the preliminaries Aug. 7.
Upon hearing Tuesday the appeal was taking a positive turn, she turned in her best 5,000 training session of the year to cement her inclusion on the team.