Twenty-four hours after it became official, Halifax’s Geoff Harris was still trying to come to grips with the fact he is going to the Olympics.
“I don’t 100 per cent know that it’s fully sunk in yet,” the 800-metre track star admitted on Monday afternoon. “It’s a little bit surreal.”
The 25-year-old became Nova Scotia’s 11th Summer Olympian on Sunday after racing to his first 800-metre national title at the Canadian track and field championships in Calgary on Saturday.
Harris, a former Dalhousie Tigers standout who has had a breakthrough season highlighted by four personal-best times, crossed the line in 1:46.49, a quarter of a second faster than runner-up Nathan Brannen.
With two Olympic B standards already this year — times of better than 1:46.30 — the win was enough to get Harris to the Games in the “rising star” category.
Harris used a powerful late kick in Saturday’s race to separate himself from the rest of the pack.
“Coming down the home stretch, it was really windy,” Harris said. “But I was able to stay relaxed. That’s been a big thing for me, not tightening up, fighting for it, and letting myself run, and it felt amazing to just roll through like that.”
Harris wasn’t the only Nova Scotian to qualify for the Olympics in Calgary on the weekend. Bridgewater’s Jenna Martin, 24, is also going to London after winning the 400-metre women’s crown on Friday in 51.53 seconds, passing the Olympic A standard by two-one-hundredths of a second.
Both track athletes have been friends for years. Harris recalls travelling with Martin to Boston by car in 2005 for the first international meet of his career.
“I’m so happy for her, the way she did it,” Harris said. “She deserves it … It’s really nice for me to have another Nova Scotian (track athlete) going to London, and hearing there are 11 Nova Scotians total … It’s a big year for us, for sport, to have that many of us going.”
Both Harris and Martin were scheduled to fly back to Halifax on Monday and are planning to compete in Sunday’s Aileen Meagher International Track Classic at Huskies Stadium starting at 6:30 p.m.
NOVA SCOTIANS AT THE OLYMPICS
— Geoff Harris, Halifax (track)
— Jenna Martin, Bridgewater (track)
— Ellie Black, Halifax (gymnastics)
— Mark de Jonge, Halifax (kayak)`
— Ryan Cochrane, Windsor (kayak)
— Jason McCoombs, Dartmouth (canoe)
— David Sharpe, Halifax (swimming)
— Custio Clayton, Dartmouth (boxing)
— Amy Cotton, Judique (judo)
— Eric Gillis, Antigonish (marathon)
— Danielle Dube, Glen Haven (sailing)