Vancan Outta The Blue

Exclusive Twitterview: Canadian Marathoner Lanni Marchant
April 23, 2012, 11:58
Filed under: Archived: Sports

The Fight to Fly

I recently had an opportunity to chat with Lanni Marchant, Canadian Marathoner who’s currently embroiled in the fight of her life to get to the London 2012 Summer Olympics. 

Unfortunately for her, her personal best time which is the fastest by a Canadian woman in the last 6 years and even longer than that if you don’t count the Russian who acquired Canadian citizenship, is not good enough for Athletics Canada.

This means the London, Ontario native can’t compete in London, England and neither will any other Canadian woman. Below, Lanni answers questions about her track and field experience during her youth and what steps she is taking to convince Athletics Canada to allow her to compete.

JH: How were you involved in athletics throughout your youth?

LM: I grew up figure skating and always had to run to stay in shape for that. In HS I joined the LWTFC and turned my full attention to running.

I actually didn’t make the jump to the marathon until last Spring (Debut at the Ottawa Marathon 2H49m). I had a pretty decent race, but knew there was more in the tank. I definitely didn’t train like a marathon runner. I was finishing up law school and trying to plan the next stage of my life.

Then I decided to do the Chicago marathon in the Fall (2H44m) and at the time thought I had trained like a proper marathoner. Then this winter I went to Kenya to train. I don’t know if it was just training there, or actually giving myself the chance to put training at the top of my to do list, but it worked and I was able to make the jump up to the level of running I knew I was always capable of running. It just took me longer to level the playing field.

JH: So what’s the fastest marathon you’ve run and how does that compare to the OLYMPIC Qualifying standard?

LM: My Rotterdam time last weekend (2H31m50s) is now my fastest. I was 5 min under the IAAF Olympic Standard, but less than 2 min over the Canadian standard. Good enough for the Olympics but not good enough for my country eh?

JH: Which brings us to your dilemma; to an outsider, the Canadian standard being stricter than the Olympic one seems a little backwards. Any way you can elaborate on why it’s that way?

LM: It’s a numbers game apparently. Canada would rather send no one than send an athlete who may potentially only finish as high as 30th (My time would have put me in the top 20-22 in the last two Olympics) because having someone finish outside the 12th spot “drags the team down statistically.”

Athletics Canada is essentially too afraid to risk having low marks in significant categories. It is better to send 1 person who will finish in 12th than send a team of 5 who will score one in the top 12 and the other 4, 13th and higher. Having no representation is better statistically. Totally ignoring the spirit of the Olympics and the fact that none of us have a crystal ball to tell us how the race will go.

World Record Holder Paula Radcliffe was 23rd at the last Olympics. Goes to show that final placing shouldn’t determine who gets to line up.

JH: Seems awfully unfair of Athletics Canada to me. So what point are you at in your fight to get to London?

LM: We are in the initial appeal still. We anticipate it being denied and having to fight a long uphill battle. At some point, AC needs to be scrutinized by the rest of the country (and the U.S) & realize the only reason Canada isn’t as strong a force in the track/road world is because they are keeping our athletes out of competition.

The 6th Annual Publix Georgia Marathon and Half Marathon was held on Saturday, March 18th, 2012. Lanni was the first female to finish the half marathon with a time of 1:14. (Photo – ANA LAURA ARAYA)

JH: Are you aware of any similar cases like this in other sports/events? How have they gone down?

LM: In 2008, Eric Gillis received “rising star” status to allow him to compete in the 10,000m race. Rising star is meant to give up and comers the Olympic and world experience necessary for them to place in the top 12 at the NEXT championships. Nicole Stevenson was in a similar position to me in 2008, but she opted not to appeal.

Right now I am not certain if any other runners are in my and Krista’s position. Comparable to cases in the past, Krista and I have a very strong argument. Unfortunately, AC will not extend rising star to the marathon.

JH: What kind of support have you received this far? How have your teammates and coaches and family contributed?

LM: My law school friends made a facebook page (www.facebook/letlannirun) and my family is helping me get the word out. Unlike the support on our men’s side, women’s marathoning has not been a focal point until this past week… so we are starting with some bare bones here to build upon.

JH: Seems like you have the opportunity to be somewhat of a pioneer here then. Are you prepared for AC to come back and say no?

LM: I am fully prepared for AC to say no. I just hope they are prepared for a very stubborn brunette with nothing to lose 😉 In all seriousness, I shouldn’t have to be a pioneer for women’s athletics in Canada. If AC truly wants to support Women’s running, they would be jumping at the opportunity to put women’s athletics in the lime light. They would not be hiding behind the COC and OTP.

JH: So while you continue your appeal, and have your law stuff to deal with, how do you go about continuing to train?

LM: This week will be my first week back to training since the race. Now I’ll focus on getting my mileage back up and gearing up for a summer season that will hopefully end with me toeing the line in London. Running will be more of my focus now, as I think it’s time to see how much faster I can get.

JH: I want you tell readers why they should take the time to send an email to AC and who they can send it to. Why is this SO important to you?

LM: We are a proud country and we have the rest of the world laughing at us. Every Olympics we have piles of athletes that sit at home watching the games because they weren’t good enough for our country. We are being judged against statistics, and not according to our competition.

Girls will be lining up in London who Krista and I beat in Rotterdam. We are at a point now where we cannot let AC put its head in the sand. It’s time for our country as a whole to argue for representation on the world stage.

Email Martin Goulet – he’s the chief high performance officer who will make the decision.

We have two female runners who are the 9th and 10th fastest women EVER in Canada in the marathon, and we aren’t allowed to compete for our country? No Canadian female has represented our country in the marathon since 1996! Any true Canadian would find these stats disgusting.

If YOU feel strongly about this or even if you feel just a twinge of hope for Lanni, take the time to email Martin Goulet at the address just above and follow Lanni on twitter @LMJ5252.

As well, please like her facebook page LET LANNI RUN

In addition, share this twitterview with your friends on twitter and facebook!

Let’s get Lanni to London!

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