Davenport edges team-mate in sprint
Ethan Davenport crowned his first appearance at the Front Street Mile with victory in the Elite Male category, beating compatriot team-mate Sacha Smart in a sprint finish.
The Canadian track pair, from Toronto, were among a field of four athletes, with Davenport crossing the line in a time of 4:20.20, four seconds ahead of his team-mate Smart, with Ethiopians Suleman Shifa (4:32.78) and Mengistu Tabor Nebsi (5:17.95) claiming third and fourth respectively.
It was Shifa who seized the early initiative to lead after the first turn, only for the Canadian runners to reel him in at the halfway stage, before battling it out on the downhill finish, with Davenport pulling clear with about 200 metres to go, to clinch glory.
“It was a great race and I’m delighted to win it,” said Davenport, who usually competes alongside Smart over 800, 1,500 and 5km track distances.
“I think we went out quite slowly at the beginning but it turned out to be a very fast finish. When that happens it can hard but a sprint finish is always exciting.
“Sacha and myself train together every day and so it is always nice to be able to compete against one another like that. He is actually ahead of me a lot of the time in training and it can really just depend on who takes to the course better at any given time.
“Thankfully for me today there was a downhill finish, that plays into my advantage and I managed to just get the better of him.
“I’ve only ever done straight road races before so this was very different to anything I’ve done before because you have the turns as well as the incline and hills, that makes it a lot more tactical.
“The two of us tried to stay together but the thing was the two other guys are unknown to us so we really didn’t know fast they would be. Once we pulled ahead we made a really decisive move and managed to pull away.
“If you go too early in a mile race you can burn all your matches, so we had to be smart about it.
“I never thought I had the race won because Sacha is really strong and when I sprinted I didn’t look because I knew I’d have to give it my all to beat him.”
Smart conceded his disappointment at missing out to his compatriot, but took the opportunity to hail the atmosphere created by of the impressive crowd along the racecourse.
“It is disappointing to finish second but it was a great battle with Ethan,” Smart said.
“We had to figure out how to take out the other two before the top of the hill and then it was just a straight race between us. I really struggled on the downhill finish, it felt so strange to me. Once Ethan pulled away, I knew I wasn’t going to catch him.
“That was a lot of fun and it was amazing to have the crowd like that, we really didn’t expect that at all. We don’t see anything like that when we compete on the tracks in Canada and so to compete in a street mile like this was just phenomenal.”
Meanwhile, Johndell Cumberbatch put the disappointment of losing his 2018 senior boys’ crown behind him by clinching an impressive victory after moving up to compete in the local men’s race this year.
After clocking the fastest time in trials, crossing the line in 4:44, the 18-year-old proved he was the one to watch among his older rivals, all but matching his trial time, crossing the line in 4.44.69 ahead of Seamus Feron in 4.47.14 and Dennis Mbelenzi in 4.51.81.
“It does feel good to win, I’m feeling very blessed to be here,” said Cumberbatch on his dominant display.
“Not all the competitors were here including Chayce Smith, who really pushed me in the trials. It’s a real shame because I really wanted to race him and be able to prove myself.
“However, I’m really thankful to have won the race, it’s a great feeling.
“I managed to match my trial time and so I’m pleased to have backed that up in the actual race and won.”
In the male over-40 race, Damon Ming took the honours in a time of 5:15, ahead of Neil De Ste Croix (5:24) and Sean Kelly (5:56) in second and third respectively.