Three Gaels runners medal at OUAs

Gold, silver, and bronze at York meet

This past weekend, the track and field team headed to the OUA Championship meet with high hopes, but without their Head Coach Steve Boyd.

The Queen’s track and field team returned from the weekend with three medals: Robert Kanko won bronze in the 3,000 m, Kara Blair won silver in the 3,000 m, and Mitch de Lange won gold in the 1,500 m race.

Blair is celebrating doubly, because alongside teammate Marley Beckett, she was named to the national team that will represent Canada at the FISU World University Cross Country Championships in Morocco on March 7.

Due to the unexpected firing of Boyd on Feb. 19, and the subsequent stepping-back of his assistants Steve Weiler and Leslie Sexton, Queen’s track and field athletes were left to compete without a coach.

The runners used the controversy as fuel en route to their medalling performances, but it wasn’t an easy road.

“The atmosphere at the OUAs was toxic. It was by far the worst experience I have had at meet,” de Lange told The Journal. “I just wanted to attend the meet to celebrate and enjoy running but the officials were checking Queen's athletes for any form of protest and it felt as though our administration was not protecting us.”

“It was unfortunate that we could not stand on the podium wearing Queen's gear because we feel our administration has let us down. We also could not celebrate these accomplishments with our coach, who we wanted to thank after the race because we owe these medals to his commitment to us as athletes,” de Lange said.

He continued to explain how the accomplishments were felt for him and his teammates: “What should have felt like a breakthrough race only felt disappointing. Running isn't about the medals or the championships you win, it is about running for what you love and believe in.”

Boyd did show up to support his athletes, but he was ejected from the venue after just over five minutes by York Athletic Director Jennifer Myers and a pair of security guards.

“The greatest moment for me,” said de Lange, “was seeing the members of my team fight through adversity and still perform the way they did despite the lack of care Queen's administration has shown our team.”

“It takes great courage to step on that line and I'm proud of every one of my teammates for doing so.”

The past weekend was a triumphant one for the team but an equally difficult one as the fate of their program hangs in the balance. However, they are not ready to give up.

“Maybe fighting back is just showing you can persist no matter what they try and take away from you. The one thing they cannot take away from you is your passion, your courage, and your persistence.”

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