Brittany Crew won’t have her coach at London Stadium tonight when she makes history in women’s shot put.
The 23-year-old from Toronto will become the first Canadian to compete in a the women’s shot put final at the world track and field championships.
Her coach Richard Parkinson will watch and coach via a video stream in his hotel room, where he’s been quarantined with the norovirus that has struck nine members of the Canadian team.
“It’s tough,” Parkinson said Wednesday, just hours before Crew’s final. “But it’s about her, it’s about getting her there.
“I’m not going to lie to you, it sucks not being there, because it is kind of our moment. We’ve done a lot of work together over four years to get here, wish I could share that moment with her.”
Crew threw 18.01 metres to qualify with her final throw Tuesday night, with the help of an elaborate video system Parkinson set up.
The Canadian team’s biomechanist filmed Crew from the stands with his high definition video camera, then played the video back while filming the screen with his phone. He then texted the video to Parkinson back in the hotel. Parkinson then texted his comments to shot putter Tim Nedow, who relayed the advice to Crew.
Crew, the Canadian record-holder at 18.58 metres, threw 17.41 and 17.26 in her first two throws Tuesday. Parkinson noticed her head was coming around too quickly, and so she was giving up precious torque. He instructed her to place a towel at the back of the throwing circle, and to train her eyes on that until the very last second.
“It just delays the head a fraction of a second from turning around too quick,” Parkinson said.
Parkinson said he woke up Tuesday feeling ”like I was bound up, and I just thought it was bad fish and chips. I knew what was going around so I thought I should call Paddy (McCluskey) our doctor.”
Since the quarantine initially was just 24 hours, he believed he’d only have to miss the qualifying round, but with as many as 30 athletes at the same central London hotel falling ill with the stomach virus, the quarantine period has been extended to 48 hours.
“(Crew) took the news well, and understood that there are certain things you can’t help. I told her I had to do the responsible thing because it’s just not my safety but it’s everybody around, her and her teammates.”
Canadian sports psychologist Penny Werthner will also be at the stadium as a “calming force,” said Parkinson.
This meet is particularly tough to miss, Parkinson said, because Crew is enjoying a breakout season. She didn’t qualify for the Rio Olympic final in her first major international meet. But she broke the Canadian record twice in the span of 48 hours earlier this season, and has a solid chance of finishing top eight in London, which would be an excellent result for someone so young. Throwers peak in their late 20s and early 30s.
“You just capture the 60,000 English people in the stands, it’s an incredible environment,” Parkinson said. ”I’m going to miss out on all that, but at the end of the day, it’s about her.”
Canada’s Eric Gillis dropped out of the marathon around the 30-kilometre mark a couple of days after becoming ill, and sprinter Aaron Brown recovered from the stomach bug in time to compete in the 200 metres, only to be disqualified in the heats.
Isaac Makwala of Botswana, who was expected to challenge South Africa’s Wayde van Niekirk in the 200 and 400 metres, was forced to withdraw from both events after he fell ill.