JIS News

Canadians will get the chance to see Jamaican sprint sensation Usain Bolt in action on June 11, when the triple Olympic gold medallist headlines the University of Toronto’s Festival of Excellence at the Varsity Athletic Centre.
The Festival of Excellence is an international track and field event, which will feature several world-class athletes, including Bolt, who will run in the 100-metre race; American sprinter Shawn Crawford, who finished second to Bolt in the 200-metre event at the Beijing Olympics; Canadian hurdlers Perdita Felicien and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep; and American decathlete Bryan Clay, among others.
Felicien, who is of St. Lucian heritage, is the first Canadian female hurdler to win gold in the World Championships, a feat she achieved twice, while Lopes-Schliep’s bronze medal in the 100-metre hurdles at last year’s Beijing Olympics was the first Olympic track and field medal for Canada since 1996 and the first for a Canadian female at the Olympics since the 1992 Games. Clay, known as the “world’s greatest athlete”, won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and silver at the 2004 Olympics.
At a press conference held recently at the Varsity Athletic Centre, Lopes-Schliep described Bolt, whom she met in Beijing, as a phenomenal athlete. She said she is looking forward to competing in an international event in her home country.
Mr. Geoff Arnoldi of the Arnoldi Group, organisers of the event, said the Festival of Excellence will not only feature 12 international events with more than 100 athletes, but it is also an opportunity to showcase the next generation, as there will be several events geared towards student athletes.
There is also a ‘Run Like Lightning’ school-based programme where schools compete against each other to see how much they can raise for charities. Each of the top five pledge-collecting schools get to send a boy and a girl to Jamaica later this year to meet Bolt.
The University of Toronto’s Manager for Promotions and Sport Information, Mary Beth Challoner, said that the Festival of Excellence will highlight the institution’s state-of-the art sporting facilities and its renewed commitment to high performance sports, and show that “Toronto can host international-calibre track and field competitions.”

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