Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ex-Winnipegger dons a bronze at world championship meet

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SOPOT, Poland -- Nicole Sifuentes ran the race of her life Saturday -- and got a big break to boot.

The Winnipeg runner blazed to a Canadian indoor record in the women's 1,500 metres at the International Association of Athletics Federation World Indoor Championship in Poland with a time of 4:07.61 -- good enough for fourth place. But just under an hour after the race was over and half an hour after the medal ceremony, she was bumped up to third and a spot on the podium when a runner who finished ahead of her in a bumpy, jostling race at Ergo Arena in Sopot was disqualified.

"I'm very proud of how I ran," Sifuentes said. "I honestly pictured myself on the podium. I am so proud to bring home a medal for Canada. When I was a little girl watching these meets, I was always watching for a Canadian woman just to be on the start line. To be a Canadian woman on the podium is really special.

"Today, I ran with a lot of poise and confidence. I kept my composure and ran the way I wanted to. This bronze is very special."

The previous Canadian record of 4:08.18 was held by Carmen Douma-Hussar, set in 2004 at the IAAF World Indoor Championship.

Sweden's pre-race favourite, Abeba Aregawi, sprinted away from the field at 500 metres and extended her lead throughout before crossing the line to win handily in 4:00.61. Her time was less than a second outside the championship record of 3:59.75, set in 2008 by Ethiopia's Gelete Burka. Ethiopian teenager Axumawit Embaye took silver with a time of 4:07.12.

Morocco's Rababe Arafi made a late charge and appeared to have won bronze, but after review officials deemed she stepped off the track's inside boundary while passing fading compatriot Siham Hilali, she was disqualified. Sifuentes sped past Hilali with under 20 metres to go.

Sifuentes, 27, was born and raised in Winnipeg and ran track at the University of Michigan. She married an American she met during her college days. The couple reside in Michigan, not far from their alma mater in Ann Arbor.

 

-- wire services, YouTube, staff

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 9, 2014 A3

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