TOKYO — In a moment usually reserved for celebrating individual accomplishments and the hard work it took to make them happen, there was no mincing words for Canadian Evan Dunfee.
Shortly after winning bronze in the men’s 50-kilometre race walk, the 30-year-old from Richmond, B.C., lamented the sport’s removal from the Summer Games.
Dunfee is likely the only Canadian who will ever win an Olympic medal in the event after the International Olympic Committee and World Athletics pulled the 50k from the 2024 menu in Paris. The event is being removed for gender balance; there is no women’s 50k.
“It’s absolute bollocks the excuse the IOC gives for why they’re getting out of the event,” said an emotional Dunfee during the post-race press conference. “They don’t like it. It’s a free event. They can’t make money off of it.
“I think we’ve proven time and time again, it’s an exciting race, it’s an Olympic race. The 50k is the epitome of what it means to endure. It’s the longest foot race of the Olympic Games.”
Fifth when the bell sounded on his final lap – the last of 25 laps of a two-kilometre loop – Dunfee picked off Portugal’s Joao Vieira and then caught Spain’s Marc Tur over the final 200 metres.
Gold medallist Dawid Tomala of Poland finished in three hours 50 minutes eight seconds, ahead of Germany’s Jonathan Hilbert in 3:50:44. Dunfee crossed the line in 3:50:59.
“At that point in the race, I was just thinking about my friends and family back home walking every step of the way with me, and thinking about my nana who would have been walking every step of the way with me,” Dunfee said.
Guillaume LeBlanc is Canada’s only other race walk medallist with a 20k silver in Barcelona in 1992.
On the water, canoe sprinters Laurence Vincent-Lapointe and Katie Vincent put themselves in a good position to earn another medal for Canada in the sport.
Vincent-Lapointe of Trois-Rivières, Que., and Vincent of Mississauga, Ont., advanced to the semifinal of the C-2 500 metres after winning their quarterfinal in two minutes 2.259 seconds on Tokyo’s Sea Forest Waterway.
The quarterfinals, which began at 11:27 a.m. local time, took place under a blazing sun with a temperature of 32 C, though it felt like 39 C.
The Canadian pair, world champions in 2017 and 2018, failed to move directly from the heat to the semifinal after crossing the finish line with a time of 2:02.170, one second behind the second-place team from Germany.
“We approached our (Friday) races one at a time, doing our best to stick to our race plan. I’m happy it worked out well,” said Vincent-Lapointe, who won silver in the C-1 200 the day before.
The semifinal of the C-2 500 will take place Saturday.
Earlier Friday, Canada’s Brooke Henderson shot a 71 to stay at par in women’s golf. The product of Smiths Falls, Ont. sits in a four-way tie for 40th.
Hamilton’s Alena Sharp had a 2-under 69 to improve her standing and sit a shot back of Henderson in sole possession of 44th.
Leader Nelly Korda also shot 69 to move to 15 under overall and holds a three-stroke advantage over India’s Aditi Ashok (68).
The weather has been a major factor at Kasumigaseki Country Club, with extremely high temperatures challenging players.
To limit time in the midday sun, groups started at the first and 10th holes, allowing for the course to be clear by 2 p.m. local time when it was expected the temperature would be the highest.
Both Henderson and Sharp started from No. 10.
“I really had to grind it out and get up and down sometimes and make lemonade out of lemons today,” said Henderson. “It’s just nice that I had that courage and grind in me because it’s tough to keep going when you’re that far down on the leaderboard.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 6, 2021.