Evan Dunfee, Ethan Katzberg set Canadian records on Day 1 of athletics worlds


Click on the video player above to watch the World Athletics Championships Day 1 afternoon session.

Evan Dunfee set a Canadian record to open his sixth World Athletics Championships and teammate Ethan Katzberg, making his debut at the event, followed suit about one hour later Saturday in Budapest, Hungary.

Following a two-hour delay due to thunderstorms, Dunfee covered the men’s 20-kilometre race walk in one hour 18 minutes three seconds for fourth place. Inaki Gomez held the previous national mark of 1:19:20 since 2016.

Dunfee, a 32-year-old from Richmond, B.C., finished 16 seconds shy of tying Caio Bonfim for a bronze medal, with the Brazilian achieving a national mark of 1:17:47.

“[I] proved [to] myself that I could be a 20K walker still,” Dunfee told The Canadian Press. “It’s funny how the brain works, I spent 10 years trying to break an hour 20 [minutes] and I crossed the finish line and I’m like “Ahh, damn, I didn’t break an hour 18 [minutes].’ Always striving for more.

“I know fourth place is supposed to be that bittersweet position where you’re just off the podium but honestly, I couldn’t be happier with this. Long time coming.”

Álvaro Martín of Spain won the race in a season world-leading 1:17:32, followed by Perseus Karlström in a Swedish record time of 1:17:39.

Dunfee entered Saturday ranked 22nd in the world in the event. His previous best finish at worlds over 20 km was a 12th-place finish (1:21:48) in 2015 in Beijing. He won bronze in the 50 km race in Doha, Qatar in 2019 and was sixth last year in Eugene, Ore., clocking 2:25:02.

A three-time Canadian champion in the 20 km race, Dunfee earned Olympic bronze two years ago in the 50 km event in Sapporo, Japan. On Thursday in Budapest, he’s scheduled to compete in the men’s 35 km race walk final.

Katzberg, 21, wasted no time setting the tone in men’s hammer throw with a first attempt of 81.18 metres, easily topping the 77.00 requirement to automatically qualify for Sunday’s final at 11:49 a.m. ET.

Watch Athletics North every day during the World Athletics Championships on CBCSports.ca and CBC Sports YouTube Channel for a rundown of the day’s top stories and events. Rob Pizzo will be joined by our track and field analysts, including Morgan Campbell, to bring you the latest storylines.

The Nanaimo, B.C., native, fresh off a personal best (78.73) and victory at the Canadian championships on July 29, turned in the second-furthest throw of 2023 behind Poland’s Wojciech Nowicki (81.92) who went 78.04 in Katzberg’s group Saturday to qualify third for the final.

Katzberg has won six times in 12 events this season and placed no worse than third.

The six-foot-six, 235-pound athlete has also thrown over 77 metres six times after averaging 70-72 metres most of last season.

Katzberg raised eyebrows last August with a silver medal performance at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.

Victoria’s Adam Keenan (74.56) secured the 12th and final berth for the world final by 42 centimetres over fellow Canadian Rowan Hamilton of Chilliwack, B.C. (74.14).

WATCH | Full coverage of Saturday’s morning session from Hungary:

World Athletics Championships Budapest: Day 1 morning session

Catch the best track and field athletes in the world compete from Budapest, Hungary.

Elsewhere Saturday, Jean-Simon Desgagnés of Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., was sixth in qualifying for the men’s 3,000-metre steeplechase, scheduled for Tuesday at 3:42 p.m. ET.

The 25-year-old climbed seven positions on the final lap to finish in 8:20.04, second to Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale (8:19.99) in the first of three heats.

Record holder Matt Hughes (8:11.64), Graeme Fell (8:12.58) and John Gay (8:16.99) are the only Canadian men to run the 3,000 steeple faster than Desgagnés.

On July 27, Desgagnés stopped the clock in 8:24.47 for his first Canadian steeple title at the senior level.

He made his worlds debut last July and represented Canada at the fourth NACAC Championships a month later, earning a bronze medal in Freeport, Bahamas.

Philibert-Thiboutot advances to 1,500m semis

Later Saturday, Quebec City’s Charles Philibert-Thiboutot earned a spot in the men’s 1,500 semifinal by grabbing the sixth and final spot in the first of four heats.

Positioned in the middle of the pack for the second half of the race, he made a move on the inside to the top six with just under two laps remaining. Looking strong, Philibert-Thiboutot sat seventh at the bell lap with 400 metres to the finish, stayed with the front group on the straightaway and crossed the line in three minutes 34.60 seconds.

Germany’s Amos Bartelsmeyer was 84-100ths of a second behind the Canadian in seventh.

Vancouver’s Kieran Lumb was eighth in the third heat (3:36.66) and won’t race in Sunday’s semis at 11:30 a.m. ET. The final is slated for Wednesday at 3:15 p.m.

The men’s 100 heats begin at 1:43 p.m, with Fred Kerley of the United States favoured to become the first man since Bolt to repeat as world champion.

The hulking 28-year-old, who took silver at the Olympics in 2021, won 11 consecutive 100 races before South Africa’s Akani Simbine beat him in a photo finish at a Diamond League meet in Poland last month.

Other Canadian results on Saturday:

  • Lucia Stafford (Toronto) — women’s 1,500 (4:05.21, 28th of 55 finishers). Did not qualify for semifinals
  • Simone Plourde (Montreal) — women’s 1,500 (4:07.04, 40th); Kate Current (Cobourg, Ont.) — (4:07.23, four-second PB, 41st)
  • Mark Bujnowski (Mount Brydges, Ont.) — 18.84 metres in men’s shot put (did not qualify for final)

WATCH | Phylicia George expects ‘something special’ from Canada’s athletes:

Canadians to watch at the 2023 World Athletics Championships | Athletics North

Athletics Canada is sending 50 athletes to the 2023 Worlds Athletics Championships starting August 19th in Budapest, Hungary. Here we preview the Canadian contingent with someone whose done it all before; 3-time multi-sport Olympian Phylicia George.

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