By Michelle Clarke (Photo Credits: Ida Valentina)
The Toronto 2015 PanAm Games are winding down, however the crowds keep getting bigger and louder and the atmosphere for the Men’s 1,5000M was no different.
Canada’s Nathan Brannen , an accomplished track runner went out hoping for gold. During the initial laps, the men were not taking any risks, staying tightly packed together and as some had referenced, maintaining a pedestrian pace.
In fact, it started to get a little too tight for Brannen, who ended up where no track athlete wants to be: boxed in on the inside lane. Watching him, it was clear he was working hard to get out of his position and into a better spot where he could stay in medal contention. And he altered confirmed that, “it’s bittersweet, I think I could’ve won it if I was in a better position.”
With two laps left Brannen took a bit of a surge and as the pack rounded down into the bell lap the chase was on. The United State’s Andrew Wheating and Brannen kicked the last 100M fighting for gold. With just metres to go Brannen, up against the American, showed his true grit. With Andrew Wheating’s ridiculously long legs, it would take so much effort to catch up with his stride and Wheating crossed the line, for gold 3:41.41, with Brannen claiming silver
With his all or nothing attitude, from my vantage point I could see Brannen was determined despite recovering from an injury. “I missed five months with an Achilles tear in the fall,” he explains, “Although 3:35 is an indicator that I’m getting there, by no means am I at 100%.”
As was evident in the 1,500M race, he’s still missing a bit of the top end speed, but he’s confident he’ll get it together in the next couple of weeks.
So how does he deal with race day nerves? And what goes through his head waiting for the gun to go off? “The same thing that someone taking on a couch to 5km on their first ever 5km is feeling, I’m feeling the same thing,” say Brannen.“When they’re lining up, wondering, ‘Am I ready?’ the best of the best are thinking the same thing.” It’s been more than 15 years since his first national race as a junior, which goes to show, whoever you are, wherever you place, just by being out there and doing it, you’re closer to the elites than you think.