Alycia Butterworth, right, and Regan Yee are neck-and-neck heading to the finish line in the 3,000-metre steeplechase at the 2021 Harry Jerome Track Classic held at Swanguard Stadium, June 12. (Mark David Janzen photo)

Alycia Butterworth, right, and Regan Yee are neck-and-neck heading to the finish line in the 3,000-metre steeplechase at the 2021 Harry Jerome Track Classic held at Swanguard Stadium, June 12. (Mark David Janzen photo)

UPDATE: Parksville steeplechase athlete has 2 more shots to earn Canadian Olympic team berth

Butterworth close to hitting qualifying time

Parksville athlete Alycia Butterworth, fresh off her strong performance at the 2021 Harry Jerome Track Classic, is now focusing on the Canadian Olympic Trials in Montreal on June 25.

Although Butterworth finished second in the 3,000-metre steeplechase, what has her excited and even more motivated was how close she came to hitting the Olympic qualifying time of nine minutes, 30 seconds. She was 1.27 seconds shy of achieving that important milestone.

“It was bittersweet,” said Butterworth. “I was happy to run a big personal best, but it is hard to be so close to the standard and not quite there.”

The race was Butterworth’s first 3,000-metre steeplechase since 2019. And she was please to see how far she has progressed with her training.

“It was amazing to be able to have such a strong start,” said Butterworth. “My training has been going really well this year and I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m looking to chasing faster times in the races to come.”

Butterworth has two races to achieve her quest of making it to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The first is the Canadian Olympic trials and the Montreal Classic on June 29.

“The Olympic trials is the race I’m targeting,” said the former Ballenas Secondary athlete. “This close to the race, there’s not much to do but stay healthy.”

RELATED: Parksville steeplechase athlete still has sights set on Canadian Olympic team spot

Butterworth, who ran for the University of Idaho, is back in British Columbia, living in Burnaby. She is back in school at the University of British Columbia to complete her Master’s degree in data science. She has been training under the guidance of coach Mark Bomba, along with training partner and fellow Olympic hopeful Regan Yee of Hazelton.

Those wishing to watch and cheer Butterworth and other athletes can do so on the free Olympic Trials webcast. It will be streamed on athleticscanada.tv

Butterworth has a come a long way since she started running as a student at Ballenas Secondary. She trained under Mid-Island Distance Running Club coaches Randy and Kim Longmuirs. She recalled training on the cinder track at the school and the challenges she has had to overcome using the dilapidated facility.

For up-and-coming high schoolers who are looking to reach a university or elite level in track and field, it is very difficult to do so on the track we currently have at Ballenas,” said Butterworth. “For example, when I would practise hurdling for steeplechase I would be landing on rocks and grass patches. It was honestly a little dangerous.”

During her last couple years in high school, Butterworth said she would travel to Nanaimo with some teammates for harder training sessions when possible, usually only on the weekends.

“The state that the Ballenas track is in, it’s very difficult to develop speed and if a young athlete doesn’t have the option to travel to Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Courtenay to train, at least occasionally, it makes it difficult to reach their full potential, which is discouraging for the athlete,” said Butterworth, who now strongly advocates to get the cinder track upraded to an all-season turf.

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

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