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NV racer claims national junior title

NORTH Vancouver's Lindsey Butterworth raced to the biggest win of her athletics career earlier this month, claiming gold at the Canadian Junior Track and Field Championships held in Winnipeg

The 18-year-old Handsworth grad became a national champion July 10 when she clocked a time of 4: 31.59 in the 1,500-metre race to win by less than half a second. University of Calgary runner Jenna Van Vliet finished second in 4: 31.98 with Colleen Hennessy of the University of Toronto placing third in 4: 32.82.

Butterworth tucked in behind the leaders for much of the race and then made her move to the front with 200 metres to go.

"I just wanted to get in good position - I knew it was going to be tactical and pretty fast," she said, adding that she wasn't certain of the outcome until the moment she crossed the line. "It was pretty close. I thought they were going to pass me at the line. . . . I was kind of shocked."

The win came with an extra bonus - the top two finishers in the race earned spots in the 2011 Pan American Junior Athletics Championships being held July 2224 in Miramar, Fla.

Shortly after Butterworth crossed the line she was whisked into a tent full of national team uniforms and outfits.

"They took me and the girl that came second into the place where all the Team Canada stuff was and we were just so shocked," said Butterworth. "I didn't even believe that it happened and we were picking out my Team Canada uniform. It was just crazy."

Butterworth, who is entering her second year at Simon Fraser University this fall, has never before competed internationally for Canada.

"I'm so excited. It's going to be really great," she said. "I don't really have any expectations as far as placing. I just want to run a fast time, I just want to get a personal best."

She'll be back at SFU for crosscountry season in the fall. The Clan has a strong track record of churning out great female middle distance runners and last year Butterworth benefited from training with fellow North Shore standouts Jessica Smith and Helen Crofts, both of whom own multiple NAIA national titles.

"It's really great to train with them because you know how far ahead they should be from you and if you come closer to them you know you've done a good job," said Butterworth. "In races you know where you should be and if you're not there you know you have to step it up a bit."

With Smith now finished her SFU running career and Crofts entering her final year, the school will need new front runners to step up. Now a national champion, Butterworth fits that description perfectly.

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