Luc Bruchet (left), shown here competing at the 2016 Olympics, went under the Olympic qualifying standard in the 5,000-m at the Harry Jerome International Track Classic last weekend in Burnaby. (Laci Perenyi/Sportphoto photo)

Personal-best run launches South Surrey runner back in Olympic contention

At Harry Jerome Classic, Luc Bruchet hits Olympic standard in men's 5,000-m

It looks like Luc Bruchet is headed back to the Olympics.

At the Harry Jerome International Track Classic at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium on Saturday, the South Surrey runner – who attended Elgin Park Secondary before moving on to UBC – clocked a time just under the Olympic qualifying mark in the men’s 5,000-m.

Bruchet – who also competed for Canada at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio – crossed the finish line in 13 minutes, 12.56 seconds, a stunning mark that shaved a full 10 seconds of his personal best. He needed to finish in 13:13.56 or less in order to book his ticket to the Tokyo-hosted Games this summer.

“Still trying to process what happened last night,” the 30-year-old tweeted Sunday, adding that having fans cheering for him along the fence helped push him in the final stages of the distance race.

“It made those last few laps a touch easier,” he said.

And though Bruchet will have to wait a few weeks to get the official word that he’s been named to the Canadian Olympic track and field team, it’s a likely appointment after his performance Saturday.

Though he said he felt good heading into Saturday’s race at Swangard, Bruchet admitted that being able to take as much time off his old PB came as a bit of a shock, even to him and his coach.

“We were kind of using (the meet) to see how fast I could go, and I surprised myself a little bit, surprised my coach,” he said.

“The plan had been to see how far we could go until 13:20. I’m in the best shape ever, and I knew if the weather was good, we could put on a good one. We were quick from the gun and things were feeling good.

“It wasn’t until that final 600 (metres) where I was like, ‘Holy crap, I might be able to run the standard.’

“There was more magic there than I anticipated.”

Despite having competed at the Olympics in 2016, Bruchet said he wasn’t focused on a return trip this summer, but was instead aiming to simply improve as much as he could.

“My whole motto this year has been that it would be great to get back to the Olympics, but my mindset has been to approach each race, each workout with everything I have, and whatever the result might be, that’s fine.

“It’s been about seeing how fast I can push myself, and how far.”

Five years ago, Bruchet – who is also a three-time Canadian cross-country champion – qualified for the Rio Games by also coming in just under the wire, with a time of 13:24.10 – less than one second under the target of 13:25.

In 2016 at the Rio-hosted Olympics, Bruchet failed to qualify for the men’s 5,000-m final after finishing 19th in his heat. Overall, he placed 37th out of 46 runners.

“It was such a learning experience, and I’m proud of myself because I never gave up – I gave it everything I had, pushed myself as hard as I could the entire race, and kept trying to pass people until I crossed the finish line,” Bruchet told Peace Arch News at the time.

He also noted back then that when the next Olympics rolled around – the one-year-delayed Tokyo event – he would not be satisfied with simply being there, and would be targeting a spot in the final race.

“Four years from now, it won’t be just about making the team, it’ll be about making the final,” he told PAN at the time.

He retiterated that stance on Monday, calling a potential trip to Tokyo “a business trip.” With much of the Olympic hubbub toned down or cancelled outright due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bruchet said it might actually make it easier for him to focus on his races.

“Maybe it’ll be easier to just lock in.”

Peace Arch News