By Rob Massey, News services
CALGARY – You don’t want to play cards with Nate Brannen of Cambridge as he has a great poker face.
Despite appearing calm and relaxed throughout the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic track and field trials, Brannen said that just wasn’t the case.
“It seemed like that on the outside, but I was pretty nervous Thursday,” he said. “You never know what can happen in the final. If I had gone down or just been slightly off and finished fourth, that would’ve been goodbye to the Olympics. I took the final very seriously. I was coming in to win and just establish myself as hopefully a top guy this year.”
The race was Brannen’s fourth of the trials. He raced in the men’s 1,500 metres semifinals Thursday, secured a berth on the Olympic team by winning at that distance Friday and he also won his 800m semifinal Friday.
“I was happy to come back in 1:46 today after three races,” Brannen said. “Really, I was just out there to have fun.”
Brannen completed the trials with another huge kick to finish second to Geoffrey Harris of Halifax in the men’s 800 metres Saturday. Harris won and secured a berth on the Canadian Olympic team with a time of one minute, 46.49 seconds. Brannen was runner-up at 1:46.74 and his Phoenix Athletics clubmate Matthew Lincoln was fourth at 1:48.37. Anthony Romaniw of Guelph’s Speed River Track and Field Club was fifth at 1:49.26.
Despite Brannen’s kick on the final stretch, it wasn’t as good as it could have been.
“My hamstring was a little sore at the beginning of that race so coach said just run very conservative,” he said. “I didn’t throw down a big kick or anything at the end.”
“It’s a very positive outcome from it,” Brannen said of the trials. “I closed better that I was expecting in the 15 and four races later, still ran 1:46 at altitude. Yeah, everything’s right where we needed it.”
While Brannen earned a spot on the Olympic team in the 1,500m, he wasn’t in the reckoning at the shorter distance as he hadn’t met any of Athletics Canada’s qualifying standards.
“I’ll just be focusing on one thing and doing the best I can in that,” he said.