By Michelle Clarke
As one of the women’s last middle distance races of the Toronto 2015 PanAm Games, the crowds at the Women’s 1,500M eventTow were erupting. With two very strong Canadian medal contenders, both with the fastest personal best and season best times, it may have appeared an easy win.
The competition proved a little better than expected. From the start,t the runners did not seem to want to work together, instead taking a single formation strategy for much of the race. Columbia’s Muriel Coneo and American Corey McGee took the lead for the first half of the race, leaving Canada’s Nicole Sifuentes and Sasha Gollish in third and fourth. According to Sifuentes, the race strategy Coneo started to execute was exactly the strategy she was aiming to do.
Both going out with the same tactic, made for a very exciting, almost photo finish. “There was nothing more I could’ve done,” said Sifuentes. “I did my very best, she was just did better today.”
Coneo had taken gold with a personal best of 4:09:05. “When the other girl approached me at the 200s I said ‘this is do or die’, said Coneo, “In my mind I was thinking ‘I need to pass her no matter what’. Then I closed my eyes and said to myself ‘Oh God please this is mine’ and that’s when I gave my extra.”
Gollish crossed the finish line with bronze, taking over McGee in the bell lap. Gollish has run better times, but having a shoe malfunction, she ran th majority of the race with one shoe half off of her foot. She demonstrated a never quit attitude at her first ever PanAm games.
As Sifuentes talked to us after the race, she was in near tears of joy, happy to be able to actually get to stand on the podium for the first time. Even though she had gotten bronze at World indoor championships in Poland, running a Canadian record of 4:07.61.It was a medal promotion, since it was later discovered third place was disqualified. The disqualified athlete got to experience Sifuentes medal and podium moment.
Today Sifuentes earned every second of her silver medal. “I’ve never held the Canadian flag before, so this is going to be really special,” she said through tears.