Qualicum Beach’s Thomas Riva ran his way into the number one spot at the Canadian National Track and Field Championships in Edmonton, Alberta last week, earning a gold medal in the 1,500 metre event. (See Riva crossing the finish line on the front page.)
Riva, who just finished his senior season with the University of Victoria Vikings track and field team, captured the gold with a time of four minutes, 6.16 seconds.
He edged out Charles Philibert-Thiboutot of Quebec, who finished second with a time of four minutes, 6.58 seconds.
“It was pretty thrilling,” Riva said after his victory.
“To be honest, it was pretty much a blur. I knew that when I was close to the line it was going to be a close finish because it was a very tactical race that everyone had ran.”
“Everyone in the group saved it all for the last lap and it made for an exciting finish.”
With the nationals finished, Riva is home for a brief rest before boarding a flight to Europe, where he will race twice in Belgium before exploring other racing options on the continent.
“I’ll race twice in Belgium,” Riva said. “I’m going to run the 1,500 and I might even run the 800 metre event while I’m there too.”
“We’ll see how things go; I’m going to just play it by ear. There’s a few more options for races while I’m in Europe too but so far it’s just the two races in Belgium that I’m working towards for now.”
Capping off an excellent career at UVic, Riva was named the Male Athlete of the Year to finish his fifth year there.
During his time as a member of the Viking Riva also earned Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s (CIS) second team all-Canadian and Canada West first team all-star in cross country.
In track, he earned Canada West male athlete of the year, Canada West first team all-star, CIS first team all-Canadian, a bronze medal in the 1,000m (Canada west) and a gold in the 1,000m (CIS).
Riva also won gold in the Canada west 1,500 m event. In the 4x400m, Riva earned bronze (CIS) and in the 4x800m, earned Canada west gold and silver (CIS).
All of that was done in his fifth and final season with the Vikings.
“It’s been great,” Riva said. “Everything I’ve done has been building towards this and now that I’ve won the gold in the 1,500 at nationals, I’m feeling very positive about the 1,500 going forward.”
Riva will continue running leading up to the nationals again next year, where he hopes to earn himself a spot on the Canadian Olympic team.
“That’s the big goal,” Riva said. “I’d like to be able to continue this great run and have another good year next year leading in to the Olympics.”
“If I can keep it up and earn myself a good enough qualifying time for the 1,500, hopefully that will land me a spot on the Olympic team.”