Georgia Ellenwood at the Pan American Combined Events Cup in Ottawa (Brian Rouble) © Copyright
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Ellenwood and Filip take Pan American Combined Events Cup in Ottawa

Canada’s Georgia Ellenwood and USA’s Scott Filip capped their 2018 season on a high note by taking the Pan American Combined Events Cup in Ottawa, part of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge, held at Ottawa’s Terry Fox Athletics Facility, on 3-4 July.

The 23-year-old Canadian ended her best season yet. After breaking the 6000-point barrier for the first time in her career and twice tallying over 6100 including during her NCAA title performance, Ellenwood overtook Day 1 leader Chari Hawkins of the USA after the javelin and held on to take her first international title in very warm conditions during the two days of competition.

Also enjoying her best campaign so far, 27-year-old Hawkins took an early lead thanks to a swift 13.48 in 100m hurdles and a season’s best of 1.81m in the high jump. Sitting on top after the first day with 3593, 17 more than the Canadian, she kept the lead in the long jump (6.03m to Ellenwood’s 6.02m).

The javelin was the turning point with Ellenwood throwing 42.25m, more than a metre better than Hawkins’ best effort of 41.01m. That put the NCAA champion ahead of Hawkins by a mere four points going into the final event.

Paced by fellow Canadians Dallyssa Huggins and defending champion Nicole Oudenaarden, Ellenwood broke way clear from Hawkins on the first lap and finished strong to secure the win with 6026 points, 22 ahead of her US challenger.

“Four points is certainly not a lot going into the 800m so you need to be confident," said Ellenwood. "I am a pretty good 800m runner so I just needed to do what I have been doing all year so I had a decent first and a last 150 metres so I am happy to come out here and compete in Ottawa again and have a good competition.”

“I didn’t expect to score over 6000 points but my expectations have go higher after scoring 6100 twice so it was really nice to come out here and be able to score 6000 points. It gives me a lot of confidence going into the offseason and into next year. I have a couple of minor injuries. Nothing too bad so I will just focus on healing and getting back into good shape to be excited to compete again next year,” she added.

Hawkins was rewarded with her second score over 6000 points. "Honestly this is the most proud I have ever been of myself. I actually started the heptathlon injured. I had to push through and rely on my family, my friends and my teammates and my body. I have never been so proud of myself to compete for team USA on the 4th of July. I couldn't ask for anything more under the circumstances,” she stated.

She also had words of praise for her closest rival. “Georgia is an amazing athlete and so much fun to compete with. She is also an amazing 800m runner. I knew I had to stay close to her but unfortunately, I was way behind on the first lap. But I told myself you only get one more chance to try to make a run at it so knuckled down and tried to push through anything I had left. But she had an incredible kick at the end so I was not able to overcome her but I was super proud of myself. It was my second best 800m ever.”

Hawkins also credited her teammates for her performance despite suffering from hamstring in her calves. The heptathlon, she said, “is such a fun event. There is such a sisterhood. We help each other. We cheer for each other and we hope each does their very best. Lindsay has been my training partner for the past two years at Santa Barbara Track Club and Jaclyn and I made the first USA team for the Thorpe Cup last year. I was sure I was going to finish. I was cramping all day and did not think I was going to finish. They were supporting, hyping me up and they are the reason I was able to finish.”

Defending champion Nicole Oudenaarden settled for bronze with 5833.

Filip tallies 7643 to lead US podium sweep

The men’s competition became a USA affair after the early departure of 2017 Francophone Games champion Taylor Stewart and the absence of defending champion Pierce Lepage from Canada.

Competing in his fourth decathlon of the year, Scott Filip set the pace with the best performances in 100m (10.66), equalling his season’s best, and the long jump (7.48m) to finish Day 1 with a 4185-point total, 164 more than his closest rival, compatriot Mitch Modin.

The Rice University graduate increased his lead to 224 following the 110m hurdles and that proved to be insurmountable as Filip went on to regain a title first won in 2016.

He scored 7643 points and led a USA sweep with Modin (7495) and Jack Flood (7376) joining him on the podium.

This victory, he said, "Means everything. Just like my other teammates being able to compete for the United States and wear that name USA on your chest is pretty much the highest honour you can have as a track and field athlete, so I have incredible gratitude to our coaching staff and decision makers to allow me to be on this USA team,” he said.

Filip has great memories of Ottawa, where he first competed internationally, in 2016 and won the Cup, following an elbow surgery earlier that year.

“The decathlon is a grueling competition and ultimately we have to face individuals but being out here with a great group of guys no matter who you are competing with we know exactly how we are feeling. We feed off from each other's energy to keep push ourselves to do the best we can individually through all these events and once we cross the finish line it's all hugs. We look forward to sharing our memories with everybody else.

Combing the best two results per country, Canada lifted the women’s Pan American Cup while the USA won the men’s division and the overall Cup adding the performances of men and women.

The younger divisions went to Puerto Rico’s Yariel Soto (6997) and Canada’s Chloé Royce (4892) in the U20 category. Canadians Owen McDonald and Shae Ledevehat topped the U18 divisions.

The next stop of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge will be the European Championships in Berlin in August.

Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF