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Former Parksville track and field stars earn spots on Canadian Olympic team

Mason, Butterworth to compete at Tokyo Olympics
Alycia Butterworth will compete in the 3,000-metre steeplechase at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. (Claus Andersen photo)

Two former Oceanside Track and Field athletes – Michael Mason and Alycia Butterworth – were named to Team Canada and will compete at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Athletics Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee announced Canada’s athletics Olympic team.

The former Ballenas Secondary School graduates, high jumper Mason from Nanoose Bay, a three-time Olympian, and 3,000-metre steeplechase runner Butterworth of Parksville, who competed at the 2017 World Championships in London, were nominated based on their world rankings position as of July 1.

A total of 57 athletes will represent the country in athletics, including 33 women and 24 men. The 47 athletes nominated join 10 others who were previously nominated in the 10,000 metres, marathon and 50-kilometre race walk.

This Olympic year has been like no other. Athletes faced significant challenges, including restricted access to training facilities, inter-provincial travel bans and a mandatory 14-day quarantine period if they chose to travel outside of Canada to compete or train.

READ MORE: ‘Resilience’ is catchphrase for Canada’s Tokyo Olympic track and field team

Butterworth and Mason had difficulties attending competition but continued to train.

Head coach Glenroy Gilbert praised the athletes for their resilience and unwavering commitment to see their Olympic dreams though under challenging circumstances.

“Our team has shown a great deal of determination to get where we are today. When faced with adversity, these athletes rose to the occasion, performed on demand and made the most of every opportunity they were given,” said Gilbert.

Canada returned from Rio 2016 with six medals, the most since the 1932 Los Angeles Games (nine medals), including more than the five won at the 1984 Los Angeles boycotted Games. To go with the six podium finishes, the team registered a total of 13 top-eight finishes, including four fourth, one sixth, one seventh and one eighth-place finish. Five Canadian records were broken in Rio, and eight athletes improved upon Canada’s best-ever finish at an Olympic Games in their respective events.

The team will convene in Gifu, Japan, on July 18 and will train at Nagaragawa Athletic Stadium before travelling into Tokyo (or Sapporo) approximately five days prior to an athlete’s first competition.Athletics will take place from July 30 to August 8 (Day 10 to 19) at Tokyo Olympic Stadium, except the marathon and race walking events being held Aug. 6-8 (Days 17 to 19) at Sapporo Odori Park.

“When they say faster, higher, stronger they must be talking about THIS team,” said Team Canada’s Tokyo 2020 Chef de Mission, Marnie McBean. “There are so many exciting stories among our athletics athletes – regardless of the challenges that COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders presented to them, they have come through being able to go faster, jump higher and be stronger than ever before.

— NEWS Staff, Athletics Canada

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