Smart training, being in shape, and “of course luck” played a factor in Ben Thorne’s finish at the World Athletic Championships in Beijing.
The Kitimat-raised athlete, who now calls Vancouver his home base, earned a bronze medal in the 20km race walk event, simultaneously earning Canada a world record.
Jubilations resonated through his hometown on news of his win, as he began to reflect on his performance.
“I didn’t expect to do nearly so well,” Thorne told the Sentinel. “I mostly credit smart training and being in good shape at the right time.”
He also wasn’t burned out, a problem he sees in other competitors.
“A lot of the fastest walkers…train too hard too early and they get to the world championships a little burned out,” he said.
That’s when he adds that luck is also in play.
“There was a point in the race where I was in 4th and the athlete right in front of me was disqualified moving me into the medal position.”
The bronze wins follows a set back earlier in the year when Thorne lost out on a chance to participate in the Pan Am Games because he was one second too slow versus his fellow race walkers Evan Dunfee and Inaki Gomez, who all train under coach Gerry Dragomir.
While losing out on Pan Am was a blow to Thorne’s confidence, it set him on the path to his Worlds win.
“At the time I was kicking myself for not going one second faster and getting on the team,” he said. “As a consolation prize of sorts I went to the World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea where I won a silver medal.”
He said the win worked well for him “because it was a low pressure springboard that acted as a confidence boost and gave me some exposure to heat [and] humidity.”
Not only that, with his colleagues Dunfee and Gomez being medal winners at Pan Am their training was impacted by a lot of attention that followed, said Thorne.
“So maybe it wasn’t a bad thing that I didn’t end up going,” he said. He adds that he, Dunfee, and Gomez “have been very evenly matched in training and it wasn’t clear going in to Worlds whether I would outperform them.”
“I think if the season had played out differently we could have all three finished in the top eight.”
This is Thorne’s second Worlds championships, the first in Moscow in 2013 where he placed 20th.
As for now, he said with Worlds being the “pinnacle of the competition season,” he’ll be taking some time off to recover. Once the month is over though he’ll start base training, and he’s planning to take the second semester off school to train and travel to Australia.
“I will probably be racing there and possibly in Japan around that time,” he said, also noting an eye to the World Team Race Walking Championships in Russia.
“And then in August is the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where hopefully I will be able to upgrade my medal colour.”