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After Missing 2016 Olympics By One Second, Justyn Knight’s Time Comes in Tokyo

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“I really wanted to make the team in 2016. When that year happened, that was the main goal. I thought it was a long shot. After that, when I made the 2017 world championship team, I said, ‘No. We are making the next Olympic team. There’s no way you’re going to be left off that list.’”

You’ll see Justyn Knight in action soon as a Canadian Olympian at the Tokyo Olympics. While at Syracuse, he was an 11-time All-American, two-time NCAA champion and has continued taking care of business with coach Chris Fox as a professional with the Reebok Boston Track Club. This season, he has set personal bests of 3:33 for 1,500 meters and 12:51 for 5,000 meters. We touch on those performances, how we got to this point from being a relatively under-the-radar runner out of Canada in high school, his thoughts on how the race could play out in Tokyo, meeting Drake and much more.

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SHOW NOTES AND QUOTES

Training Solo During the Pandemic

“From March to October, I did not see my teammates. I was training by myself. I’d see coach Fox like twice a week. He’d come and maybe supervise a workout. With the information I was given at the time, I knew that COVID affects your heart and your lungs. As a runner, you need your heart and your lungs and your legs. None of my teammates were doing anything crazy but the precautions that I was taking I don’t think people were taking the same precautions or being as safe as I was. I didn’t know how it spread so I was like, ‘Listen, this sucks. I’m bad at training by myself but maybe this is a time for me to grow and I’m going to practice by myself.’..It was tough. I don’t even run with a GPS watch because I never had one growing up. I always just had a G-Shock. On long runs, I was running into a problem, where I didn’t know how fast I was going. It turns out I was going ridiculously fast and probably hitting 5:15-5:20 pace for some of my long runs. It would make me so tired that I couldn’t do some of the workouts properly. By the time July or August rolled around, I kind of got a grip of being able to hold myself accountable for paces. It really benefitted me because when I grouped back with my team, instead of being the kid that always needs someone to take out the first 200m, I would start pursuing the role of the guy dictating the pace and holding the team accountable. It ended up making me a better runner. I had to do a lot of growing.”

When He Started Having the Goal of Making the Olympics

“I really wanted to make the team in 2016. When that year happened, that was the main goal. I thought it was a long shot. After that, when I made the 2017 world championship team, I said, ‘No. We are making the next Olympic team. There’s no way you’re going to be left off that list.’ I take it season-by-season. If it’s world champs, we’re focusing on world champs. If it’s an off-season where you just get to run fast, we’re going to focus on being the fastest you can possibly be. This year happens to be the Olympics and that’s what we’re focusing on now.”


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