There was more than just a wee dram of drama when Cameron Levins collected his first international medal.
The 25-year-old Black Creek runner won bronze in the 10,000m race Aug. 1 at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
Levins gave family, friends and fellow Canadians a thrilling finale to the 6.25-mile race as he sprinted to the finish line ahead of Uganda’s Moses Kipsiro and Kenya’s Josphat Kipkoech Bett.
He was leading leading until five metres to go when Kipsiro (gold in 27:56.11) and Bett (silver in 27:56.14) edged by him at the finish line. Levins finished in 27:56.23 – barely a tenth of a second from gold.
Levins ran a terrific tactical race, keeping within striking distance of the leaders until the bell lap. He made his way up to the lead, and looked headed for victory until the final few metres.
He said afterward that the result was due to his training with Alberto Salazar at the Nike Oregon Project. That training has resulted in improved finishing speed, as he ran a 55-second final lap.
Speaking with CBC after the race, Levins said the plan was for him to make his strong move about 150m from the finish line. “It almost worked for me. I just barely got caught at the line.
“I’m so pleased. That’s my first international medal. I couldn’t be happier,” he said, adding he will continue to train hard in order to finish higher on the podium in the future – a future that includes the Pan-Am Games and his second Olympics.
While thousands of Canadians watched the exciting race on CBC, Levins mom and dad (Barb and Gus) and wife Elizabeth were at Hampden Park to see it live.
“We were out of our minds with excitement, screaming and yelling cheering him on,” said Barb. “Our view was right over the finish line.
“It was such an unbelievable and surreal experience to see him compete so well at this level!! We and he believe that he can compete with the worlds’ best – he knows he has some more work to do, but it only inspires him to train even harder. We are obviously so proud of this huge achievement but we know there are even bigger things to come from Cam!”
Levins is in France this week training for upcoming Diamond League races.
Expanding on his post-race comments in Glasgow, Levins said, “I know I’m in the right spot, and I don’t feel like I’m just going to be an also-ran now. I feel like I’m a deserving member of my team.
“When you’re running with the Olympic champion in two events (Mo Farah), the Olympic silver medallist (Galen Rupp), multiple-time world medallist (Matt Centrowitz), all my teammates are medallists in something.
“This is validation that what I’m doing works, and training with the people I am is going to make me just as good. … I’m so happy to be on the podium. It’s my first time … but I’ll go back and train harder.”
Levin’s bronze was one of 34 Canada earned en route to a third-place finish at the Commonwealth Games. England finished first and Australia was second.