Jean-Simon Desgagnés will make history in Budapest on Tuesday by becoming the second Quebecer to start the final of the 3000m steeplechase at the World Championships.
Desgagnés will be back in action on the back of a spectacular comeback in the last qualifying round on Sunday, which allowed him to finish second in his run with a time of 8:20:04 and thus secure his ticket to the final Tuesday afternoon at 3:42 p.m. (Quebec time) for the finals.
As the only Quebecer to have accomplished this feat of arms, Alex Genest is in a good position to appreciate the magnitude of the Laval University medical student’s accomplishment.
“He’s creating something special in the world and I’m happy for him,” said Genest, who we followed in Kitchener, where he teaches French at a French-language elementary school. I didn’t think he could have come back like this and he proved otherwise. It is enormous what he has achieved, especially since he is also studying medicine at the same time. It’s exceptional that he’s been able to set a time of 8m20s a few times this season and multiplying the shocks after crossing each barrier shows his great physical condition.
A possible top 10
A top 10 finish is possible, says the London 2012 Olympian, who has reached the World Championships final three times and whose best performance was a 13th place finish in Moscow in 2013.
“I don’t know his goal and I don’t want to put pressure on him. He looked good after qualifying and we’ll have to see how he recovers, but I think if he can stay in the peloton he can get into the top 10.
“The biggest challenge for a Canadian is to have two good races in two days chasing the father of 12 and 9 year old boys. In Canada, due to the shallower depth, we go straight to the final. At the national championships at the end of July, he also completed the 1500 m [il a terminé en 3e place] and that can help him at the world championships, but it remains a challenge. I will follow the finale with great interest.”
While some Canadians have performed well over the years, Canada is anything but a middle-haul powerhouse. Kenya, Ethiopia and Morocco are the dominant countries.
Matthew Hughes, Canadian record holder since 2013 with a time of 8 minutes, 11 seconds and 64 minutes, notably finished 6th at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics.
Desgagnés deletes Genest’s file
“Looking back, I see all the challenges we face in Canada,” said Genest, who retired in 2016 after sustaining a foot injury that caused him to miss the Olympic trials for Rio. I grew old this summer when Jean-Simon broke my Quebec record.
Genest’s Barcelona record of 8:19.33 had stood since 2011. On July 18 in Hungary, Desgagnés clocked a time of 8:17.40.
A SPORT OF BRITISH ORIGIN
- The 3000 meter race was first held in the British Championship in 1879.
- Men competed in the Olympics in 1900 and women had to wait until 2008.
- The seven-lap course features four 36-inch barriers and a water jump.
- All but two of the Olympic champions between 1968 and 2016 came from Kenya.