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Edmonton Olympic runner takes it slow to secure a win Sunday


Top athletes from around the world were in Edmonton this Canada Day long weekend, including some homegrown talent.

The Edmonton Athletic Invitational saw participants from 14 countries compete at Foote Field.

It's the second time Athletics Canada has hosted the meet, which is one of Canada's top track and field events, in the city.

"The great thing about it is it's a national tour, so a lot of our top Canadians get to perform on home soil against a lot of great competition from around the world," said James Rosnau, Athletics Alberta's executive director.

There to test their skills were several local athletes who are making a name for themselves on the world stage, including Edmontonian, Olympian and Pan American gold medalist Marco Arop.

"One of the best things about being here is being close to home," Arop said. "Seeing friends and family in the crowd just gives me that much more energy."

Arop, who runs the 800-metre, was hoping to set a Canadian record Sunday. However, the cooler weather and rain presented some challenges on the track.

"Today would have been ideal in front of a home crowd, but we just had to play it smart, save our energy," he added. "Because running through the wind takes a lot of energy.

"It was a little tactical and a little slower. It kind of becomes a game of chess where we have to play our moves carefully."

Taking it slow proved a successful strategy. Arop beat out his fellow 800-metre competitors with a winning time of 1:48:95.

Despite having to hold back and missing out on a new record, Arop said he's happy with how the day went.

"Every race is a learning lesson," he said. "There's always something to take from it.

"Today it was one of those days where it's not the best conditions, we have to be able to adapt and adjust and I think that's really going to help me moving forward."

Event organizers hope runners like Arop will inspire the next generation of track and field stars, and Rosnau said there are plans to make the meet an annual event.

He said there aren't always many opportunities for professional track and field athletes to interact with amateurs, and events like Sunday's are a place to make those connections.

"So these professionals coming in and competing, our young athletes can see them up close and personal and watch them perform," Rosnau added.

Arop's next race is in Monaco, and then he heads to B.C. for nationals.

"And hopefully World [Championships] afterwards," Arop said.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Alison MacKinnon. Top Stories

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