South Hazelton’s Regan Yee is going to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships.
Last week, Canada named 49 athletes to its team for the event being held in Doha, Qatar Sept. 27 – Oct. 6.
Yee is currently ranked second in Canada behind teammate Geneviève Lalonde, who will also be competing in the 3000-metre steeplechase at Doha. Yee is ranked 36th in the world as of August 27 (Lalonde is 14th).
The Langley Mustangs Athletic Club athlete qualified for worlds just under the wire by running a personal best of 9:35.49 at Azusa Pacific University in California, a last-chance qualifying track meet, on July 9. The IAAF standard is 9:40.00.
She said she didn’t know where she stood until it was all over.
“It’s kind of hard to know how fast you’re going in steeplechase because it’s not like a 400-metre track because if the water pit is on the inside it cuts off a few metres or if it’s on the outside it adds a few metres,” she explained. “In the race I was just focussed on staying with the lead girls and just being in the race, so I wasn’t thinking too much about what my time was… but it just felt smooth, I felt good, I had been training super-hard, obviously, and I was just glad I was able to put it together on that day and that my time was under the world standard.”
Yee most recently finished fifth at the Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru with a time of 10:00:08.
“It’s the biggest accomplishment I’ve had so far in my track and field career, so it was a very exciting moment when I found out I was named to Team Canada,” she said.
She said she had hoped to make the podium, but was satisfied overall with the result it being her first time in a senior major international event, which she found a bit overwhelming.
She took some learning away from it, though, noting she found the race really slow, but instead of getting out front and setting the pace, as is her preference, she held back with the group and ended up getting boxed in.
“The calibre of the girls racing was a bit higher than I’ve experienced before so I did feel a little inexperienced compared to them and the race was a lot more strategic, a lot more tactical than other steeplechases I’ve been in, she explained. “So if I could go back and do it again, I would just try to be a little more assertive and control the race for how I wanted it to go.”
It is something she will be keeping in mind for Qatar.
The 24-year-old is also in the running to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The qualifying period began May 1 of this year and ends June 29, 2020. Yee has until then to post a time under 9:30.00 in competition.
She said she is confident she can make the team, especially with the opportunity to compete at a higher level, such as the upcoming worlds.
“The fastest races I’ve ever been in I’ve won, so I think if I can get into some races with the more competitive girls and get that experience, I think I can get under the Olympic standard,” she said.
That training program will begin after she takes a couple of weeks off following the world championships.
She said she will probably enter some cross-country races here or there for her base training, but has no steeplechases planned until later in 2020 leading up to the Canadian Olympic Trials scheduled for June 25-28, 2020 in Montreal.
“That’s something I will be trying to peak for, so, basically my whole training program next year will be centred around that,” she said. “I’m really excited because the world trials were held this year in Montreal and I really liked the track and I liked the city, so I’m excited to go compete there again next year.”
Yee got into steeplechasing in a kind of roundabout way, but loves it even though it’s not one of the marquee track events.
“It’s definitely not a more high profile event,” she said. “Typically I have to go over all the rules of the race when people ask me what I do for track and field, but I’ve just been doing it for so long. My coach in high school just thought I would have fun doing it and I was the only one entered in it for zone championships, so basically he said if you enter it then you’ll win. So I entered it and I thought it was a lot of fun. It adds a different element to the race. I like the flat races too, but the steeplechase just adds that little extra element that really makes it exciting.”
Yee was the 3000m steeplechase silver medalist at the 2018 Canadian Track and Field Championships and won five Usports national titles, including three individual gold medals, during her university career competing for Trinity Western University.