Canadian marathoner Cam Levis finished fourth at the world championships

Canada’s Cam Levis never lost faith in himself.

And after nearly four years of disappointing finish, dropping out and losing sponsors, Levis made a remarkable comeback on Sunday, breaking his own Canadian record, racing to the top. historic fourth place in the marathon at the World Athletics Championships. .

“Obviously I’m happy. I’m on the moon,” Levins said.

The 33-year-old from Black Creek, BC, ran two hours, seven minutes and nine seconds to surpass the 2:09.25 he ran in Toronto in 2018. The previous Canadian topping was 10th. by Peter Maher in 1993.

Tairat Tola of Ethiopia overcame the last kilometers to win gold with a score of 2:05.36. Teammate Mosinet Geremew took the silver medal with a score of 2:06.44, while Bashir Abdi of Belgium took the bronze with a score of 2:06.48.

Back in 2018, in his marathon debut, Levis hit an achievement that Canadian marathoners had ignored for decades, breaking Jerome Drayton’s record that had stood for 43 years.

The future looks bright.

But he failed in three attempts to run the Tokyo Olympic qualifying standard before hitting it with a week to spare. At the Olympics, he languished in 72nd place in the sweltering 34 degrees Celsius in Sapporo.

Levis was not re-signed by HOKA in 2022, the team he has been with since 2018. He has no sponsor.

He posted on social media that he was looking for redemption in Eugene. And he never delivered.

“It was crazy to go from being one of the last finishers at the Olympics to being one of the top finishers at the world championships,” Levis said. “I dropped so much from last year’s Olympics, I just realized I needed to get better, like every aspect of my training.

Levis, who recently won the Canadian Winnipeg half-marathon championship, said: “I’ve really had an amazing amount of positivity, like the last six months I’ve been training really well, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I can imagine.” “When I got to the starting line, I knew I was ready.”

But the marathon is difficult to predict. Levis points out that anything can happen in the last 10 kilometers, no matter how well prepared the athletes are.

“I felt great throughout the race. But even so, your legs are still really tough, it’s hard to keep going like that,” he said. “I was feeling great, but it was still a tough final 10K. When I got to the final round, I said to myself, ‘I’m here to win a medal, I’m going to do this.’ I definitely told myself I was here for a big gig.

“I think it’s part of the important outcome that I always believed it was going to happen, besides just being prepared for it.”

Levis squeezed into the middle of a large group at the front on a fast, flat road with plenty of scenic beauty. Tola, 30, broke free in the last few kilometers.

“I’ve been trying to mentally prepare myself for this for a long time,” Tola said through an interpreter. “That is my dream.”

The race was really for the silver medal, with 33-year-old Abdi pushing Geremew to the finish line before running out of breath.

Fans lined up deep on the field with many, a welcome sight after so many marathons over the past two years have been scrambled in bubbles due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Canadian friends and family members are not allowed to come to Tokyo for the Olympics

On Sundays, Levis has his parents Barb and Gus, his wife Elizabeth, and his wife there.

“There were a lot of people in the crowd. I have heard my name a million times. It’s so great. The Oregon crowd here is amazing,” he said. (My family) jumping around on the field, I’ve seen them quite a lot. Mostly I heard my parents’ voices, instead of seeing them, I recognized my mother’s voice quite well on a couple of occasions. “

Levis didn’t get a chance to find his family in the crowd just minutes after it ended. But his thoughts are on how grateful he feels that they have supported him.

“It’s hard for your family, someone like my wife, to be able to continue to support me even when I’ve lost my contract and sponsorship in general, so it’s been really great,” Levis said. “Last year was difficult. It’s also been a really rewarding year so far for training. I couldn’t be more grateful to them.”

Levis, who lives a few hours north of Eugene in Portland, was coached by Victoria’s Jim Finlayson.

Athletes can speed up with temperatures fluctuating at a pleasant 13.9 degrees Celsius with cloud cover. That is in stark contrast to conditions at worlds in Doha when the men’s marathon is held at midnight to avoid the intense heat. The temperature is still around 29 degrees Celsius.

Levis turned to the marathon after a decorated track career. He won bronze in the 10,000th place in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and raced to 11th at 10,000 and 14th at the 5,000th at the 2014 London Olympics, despite suffering from the flu before the final. .

Calgary’s Rory News came in 20th Sunday with a personal best of 2:10.24, while Ben Preisner of Milton, Ont., was 28th for 2 hours 11.47.

“All three of us Canadians, I think ran really well today,” Levis said. “We are in the midst of a great marathon era, and I am delighted to name myself there with some of the best.

“I will, I hope I have a long career ahead of me, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

After a slight delay, 1972 Olympic marathon champion Frank Shorter signaled the start of the race, sending runners along the three laps that ended in front of the University of Oregon’s Autzen Stadium. The road runs through the cities of Eugene and Springfield.

The run crosses the Willamette River and ventures along the Pre Trail, a bark-powered trail named in honor of University of Oregon running icon Steve Prefontaine, who died in a car crash on 1975.

Kengo Suzuki’s yard is empty after the Japanese team had a few positive tests for COVID-19. Also not participating in the race was Kenyan marathon runner Lawrence Cherono, who was temporarily suspended by the Integrity Unit after testing positive for a banned substance used to treat chest pain caused by anemia and oxygen for the heart.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on July 17, 2022.

By Lori Ewing of Toronto, with files from the Associated Press

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