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Guelph's Andrea Seccafien ready for her Olympic moment (13 photos)

Olympic training session at Alumni Stadium opens its doors to the public before heading off to Rio

Guelph Olympian Andrea Seccafien admitted to being more excited than nervous Wednesday night as she prepared on home turf for her first Olympic Games.

The Bishop Macdonell high school grad practiced before a crowd of around 250 people at Alumni Stadium Wednesday night as the Canadian Olympic distance team's University of Guelph base camp opened its doors to the publc.

Practice was followed by a meet and greet with athletes.

"Mostly excitement. I don't think I've really hit the nervous point yet," Seccafien said after a sweaty workout on a hot summer night.

"When I picture it I get nervous, but I think I just need to push that off for a little bit, keep focusing and keep training.

"I think when we get on that flight (to Rio) it will seem real."

Seccafien, a Bishop Macdonell high school grad, is representing Canada in the 5,000 metre event. The two heats for that race take place Aug. 16 with the final three days later.

Thirteen Canadian distance runners have been using the University of Guelph as a base camp prior to heading to Rio this week. The Royal City's climate is compatible with Brazil at this time of year and the familiarity many of them already have with Guelph, and its wonderful trail system, made it a good fit.

On Wednesday the practice was open in part to give the athletes an increased sense of event, with a crowd, music playing, several media members wandering about and a P.A. system in use.

"I love training in Guelph. It's nice to come back here and get on those familiar trails and this track (at Alumni Stadium) is really nice and really fast," Seccafien said.

She said that at this point she said it's more about mental preparedness than physical.

"Physically I'm definitely the fittest I've been ever. I'm in a position to run a personal best," she said.

"Mentally I just have to get ready to stay focused and not blow it up into a big thing. It's the Olympics but it's just a race. It's still 5 K."

Seccafien said she will be picking the brains of veteran Olympians like Taylor Milne and Chris Winter who have made the finals in their disciplines in the past for advice.

Dave Scott-Thomas, the long time U of G and Speed River Track and Field Club coach, is a coach with the Olympic team and has been running the local base camp.

"Our Olympic trials are so close to the Olympic Games that our athletes are all fit. If you're making the team, you're fit," he said of this week's fine tuning.

"Now it's just about composure."

University of Toronto Track and Field Club coach Ross Risstuccia is Seccafien's primary coach, but Scott-Thomas said Seccafien is "a pretty calm person and a pretty competitve person."

"Mostly, my job is to just stay out of the way," Scott-Thomas said.

Scott-Thomas said the Olympics bring out something special in some athletes and Seccafien could be one of those.

"Some people channel getting there into anxiety. A lot of people channel it into 'now this is my moment in time,' and that's why people love the Olympics," Scott-Thomas said.

"Two weeks from now we're going to be saying 'Holy Cow, somebody really captured lightning in a bottle and did something special and magic.' They were pretty good going in and then did something superior and Andrea seems to be on that kind of glide path."


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Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 30 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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