In 2004, when Mike Mason won the world junior high jump championship, Bennifer was breaking up — What’s that! They’ve hooked up again? — 2016 Canadian Olympic hero Andre De Grasse was nine years old and Vancouver-Whistler had just been awarded the 2010 Olympics.
Seventeen long, bar-clearing years later, Mason’s spring-loaded legs are still providing enough lift-off that the Nanoose Bay, B.C., product is looking good to qualify for a fourth Summer Olympics.
Mason, who will turn 35 in September and is balding slightly, jumped a season-high 2.30 metres at the Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome Track Classic on Saturday at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium.
“Pretty happy, yeah,” said the soft-spoken Mason. “I’ve had a good series of meets (this spring), but the first two were completely on my own. This felt really good and I was confident. It was nice to have some of those younger guys in there today jumping some heights, put a little bit of pressure on me. I think that helped.”
Mason missed his first attempt at the opening height of 2.10, but then easily cleared 2.15, 2.20 and 2.24 on his first attempts before needing three tries to clear 2.30. He made one attempt at matching his personal best of 2.33 before shutting things down.
Evan Dunfee Dominates Covid-19 Challenge with New Canadian Record on Way to Olympic Games
Sometimes, when you know you’re good and feeling in terrific race form, it’s OK to bet on yourself.
That was the case Saturday for Canadian racewalk veteran Evan Dunfee who decided that even though he would essentially be circling the Swangard Stadium track on his own in the 10,000 metres, his two-year-old national record was about to fall.
With the lapped Tyler Wilson being disqualified and Katelynn Ramage dropping out of the mixed event a quarter of the way through, Dunfee was a solitary figure as he walked on in seemingly effortless style, finishing in 38 minutes:39.72 seconds. That smashed his previous mark by nearly 15 seconds and was the fastest time in the world this season.
“Training has been going really well,” said Dunfee, a 30-year-old from Richmond and a 2019 world championships bronze medalist in the 50K racewalk. “I had a 5K time trial last week and went 9:15, so I was like ‘OK, I know it’s in the cards. I know I’m fit, so let’s give it a crack.’
“I put (the record) out there this morning, put all my cards on the table, telling people I’m going for it. No outs. Just put it on the books and see what happens. It was a lot of fun to just call my shot.”
The whole afternoon and evening at Swangard was a lot of fun. Covid-19 restrictions, which meant no athletes from outside the Lower Mainland would be allowed to compete unless they were nationally carded, made for a small field of athletes, but there were still some strong performances.
By GARY KINGSTON