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Emily Drouin’s pursuit of fun leads her to an OFSAA bronze medal

June 6, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

MISSISSAUGA — As she approached her final year of high school athletics, Emily Drouin recalls casting about for something new to try. The steeplechase, she thought, was an interesting race.

“It looked like fun,” she said, “and it seemed to work out for me.”

Indeed it did.

On a sunny Friday afternoon, Drouin came from back in the pack to claim the bronze medal in open girls 1,500-metre steeplechase. Her time, 5 minutes 9.25 seconds, was a nine-second personal best, and the medal was the first for a Regiopolis Notre Dame track athlete since Sam Gouett won silver in midget boys 3,000 metres in 2003.

It was just the fifth time Drouin has run the steeplechase, a four-lap race that requires runners to jump large barriers and navigate a water pit. Drouin said she did come to find the race to be fun.

“It takes your mind off the pain of running to think about the obstacles, having to focus on jumping over stuff.”

Drouin, bound next year to run at the University of Tennessee, had the third-fastest time in Thursday night’s qualifying, though she didn’t immediately know that. She’d finished second in her heat but the initial list of results showed her well down in the field and she confessed to feeling a bit discouraged.

“It was a little scared to think I’d come dead last,” she said. “I thought, ‘Wow, that second heat was pretty fast. This morning I saw how it changed, and I only realized (then) that I was ranked that high, and that gave me a little confidence (for the final).”

There aren’t a lot of girls running steeplechase in eastern Ontario, and Drouin said last week’s regional qualifying meet was a bit of an eye-opener for her.

“Before that there was never anybody who was really fast,” she said. “In that race I got a little too confident from previous races and I (found) there were actually pretty good people out there.”

In fact, Drouin just managed to claim the fourth and final qualifying berth to get here.

“From that I decided not to kill myself at the beginning.”

The lesson was clearly learned, as she went from fourth in the East region to third in the province, passing two of the eastern runners who beat her last week.

In Friday’s race, Drouin spent the middle part of the race bouncing between fourth, fifth and sixth place.

“I was trying to stay a little bit back because I wanted to push more toward the end. Sometimes I overdo it at the beginning and then I’m dead. I wanted to save a little bit for the end.”

Drouin moved into third place in the final lap and with Paige Sandwell of Dr. G.W. Williams challenging as the race approached its final 200 metres, Drouin decided to pick up her pace.

“I saw her coming so I decided to really push it the last 100. I knew she wanted that third spot, but I didn’t want fourth at all.”

She edged Sandwell for the bronze medal by 39 one-hundredths of a second.

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