TORONTO — Brian Barnett leaned at the line, then raised his arms in victory Sunday in what was a repeat performance of a day earlier.
The Edmonton sprinter captured gold in the men’s 200 metres to cap the Canadian championships. On Saturday, he won the 100, making him the first male to win both sprint events since Nicholas Macrozonaris in 2003.
“That was my goal at the beginning of the year, and I came and did it so I’m pretty happy with myself,” Barnett said of the double gold performance.
This marked the first time Varsity Stadium has hosted the Canadian championship in almost 40 years. It comes almost two weeks after the Festival of Excellence meet was held there, an event highlighted by Olympic champion sprinter Usain Bolt of Jamaica winning the 100-metre race.
But what really excites Barnett is being part of a young 4×100-metre relay team that’s looking to restore the country’s former glory in that event.
“We’re all pretty young and we have a lot of room to grow, and we should get stronger and stronger as the years go on,” Barnett said. “Even this year, if we all bring our best at Berlin (the world championships in August), there’s no reason we don’t medal.”
Barnett, 23, cruised to victory Sunday in 20.71 seconds on the wet track at Varsity Stadium, edging Jared Connaughton of Charlottetown — another member of the relay pool — who finished in 20.78. Sam Effah of Calgary won the bronze in 21.02.
The Canadians finished sixth in the 4×100 relay at last summer’s Beijing Olympics, the team’s best result since Donovan Bailey of Oakville, Ont., led the team to gold in 1996 in Atlanta. The current version of the team — a pool that includes Barnett, Connaughton, Effah, Hank Palmer and Anson Henry — lacks the star power of former teams. But under coach Glenroy Gilbert — a member of the squad that won gold in Atlanta — there’s also not the controversy that always seemed to follow Canadian teams of years past.
“We click very well, actually,” Barnett said. “There’s no big egos, Glenroy says, ‘Run this leg, run that leg,’ we go out there and do our best, there’s no conflict at all.”
The men’s 4×100 relay team has already qualified for the world championships, as has the women’s 4×400 team. Only four other athletes met the Athletics Canada qualifying standards they needed over the four-day Canadian championships, that also served as the qualifying event for the world championships: 100-metre hurdlers Perdita Felicien and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, Sultana Frizzell in the women’s hammer throw, and shot putter Dylan Armstrong. Rob Watson of Guelph, Ont., who won the men’s 3,000-metre steeplechase Sunday, will be considered under the “rising star” category.
Athletes have until July 24 to reach their qualifying marks, and Athletics Canada was hoping to send a team of about 30 athletes to the meet.
While Barnett captured double gold in Toronto, he won’t attempt to run both events in Berlin.
“I’m going to focus on one or the other,” he said.
It will likely be the 100, since the Athletics Canada qualifying standard is 20.21 and he ran 10.28 into a headwind Saturday.
“It’s right there in the 100 for sure,” Barnett said. “We decided to focus on the 100 this year, because we know that I have the top end to stick with the rest of the guys even though my start’s not there, but it’s coming.”
Adrienne Power of Halifax won the women’s 200 title in 23.22 seconds.
Nathan Brannen of Cambridge, Ont., won the men’s 1,500 metres, sitting in third place through most of the race before taking the lead heading into the home stretch.