Winnipeg's Nicole Sifuentes is a podium finish from qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Sifuentes needs to cross the finish line in first, second or third in the women's 1,500-metres at the 2012 Canadian Track and Field Championships which begin on Wednesday at Calgary's Foothills Athletic Park. The 2012 nationals, which conclude Saturday, are also the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Track and Field Trials.
"In Calgary, I just have to focus on being in the top three, being competitive, beating people and just win," Sifuentes (née Edwards) said in a telephone interview from her Michigan home where she trains under her former University of Michigan coach Mike McGuire. "It's going to be a different kind of pressure (than chasing a time standard) going in. If I run fast and win, or if I run slow and win, it's very important for me to be in the top three to make it to the Olympics."
The 2004 graduate of Winnipeg's Vincent Massey Collegiate set the stage just last week to be this close to achieving her Olympic dream.
On June 20, Sifuentes ran an Olympic A-plus standard time and personal best of 4:04.76 in the women's 1,500 at the San Diego Summer Night Track Series No. 2. She also topped an invitational field of elite racers to take first place.
Having achieved that time in advance of this week's Olympic trials means Sifuentes can concentrate on a top-three placing. The women's 1,500 qualifying race is on Wednesday, followed by the semifinals on Thursday and the final on Friday.
"Getting that A-plus time means the difference between my hopes and dreams of the Olympics still being alive right now," said Sifuentes. "It was a very big relief and I was very thrilled because it's an Olympic year and it had been a couple of years since I had improved my time. There's that thrill of just improving and taking a step forward at time when I've been hoping and praying that things will fall into place for me."
Sifuentes, who turns 26 on Saturday, could give herself the birthday gift of a lifetime by booking her ticket to London.
"I will be so proud if I can represent Canada at the Olympics and represent Manitoba," said Sifuentes, who married her University of Michigan engineering classmate and rowing team member Tony Sifuentes last year.
"I live in the United States but I am a proud Canadian and Manitoban. All my family is still there (Winnipeg) and so many friends," she said. "My husband (an American citizen) knows it's all Canada right now. He's got Canadian flags hanging in our home and he'll be wearing red and white when he's there supporting me (at nation-als)."
CBC television will provide some coverage Saturday from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. The event's official website is www.2012trials.ca .
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2012 Canadian Track and Field Championships/2012 Olympic and Paralympic Trials
At Calgary's Foothills Athletic Park
Wednesday to Saturday
Manitoba Olympic hopefuls
Nicole Sifuentes: women's 1,500-metre race
Victoria Dressler: women's pole vault
Jared MacLeod: men's 110-metre hurdles
Manitoba Paralympic hopefuls
Colin Mathieson: mens' wheelchair T54 400 metres
Michelle Stilwell: women's wheelchair T52 100 metres, 200 metres, 400 metres, 800 metres