Liz Gleadle earns Canada’s first gold medal on the field in Pan Am Games

With the track and field portion of the Pan Am Games underway, Liz Gleadle added to the strong momentum of national pride. Redefining the meaning of the term “Throw Like A Girl”, Gleadle is empowering and energizing. Earning the gold medal in women’s javelin, the crowd at York University’s CIBC Athletics Stadium was jubilant as Gleadle’s gold represented Canada’s first in the field.

In the aftermath of the victory, she burst into tears of joy, receiving hugs from her proud family in attendance. Home field advantage may have certainly propelled her to glory, as she excitedly proclaiming feelings of happiness knowing that so many in the crowd were behind her.

Of note, her distance of 62.83 meters surpassed U.S. record holder Kara Winger, who briefly held the lead with a throw of 61.44 meters. Prior to the Pan Am Games, Gleadle set the new Canadian record with a distance of 64.83m in May 2015 at an IAAF event in Kawasaki, Japan. As a side note, Brazil’s Juciline de Lima claimed bronze.

Under windy conditions, the lead had changed hands throughout the day. Early on, Gleadle’s throw of 59.33 meters was the top distance. De Lima would surpass her with a distance of 60.42 on her fourth attempt. On the final throw, Winger would set the new standard, placing Gleadle under pressure as she ranked third.

Despite the on-field rivalry between the two, there is also a strong mutual respect. Prior to the Games, Winger was reluctant as to whether she would attend. It would come on the suggestion of Gleadle to make the decision to compete.

Hailing from Lethbridge, Alberta, Gleadle is expanding her horizons by learing Spanish. Already fluent in English and French, her newfound knowledge of the Spanish tongue was not only a show of respect for the many Spanish-speaking competitors at the Games, she was also using it in conversation.

Always looking for ways to improve, Gleadle is highly analytical and stated that she felt learning the new language may stimulate other parts of the brain, expanding the thought process and providing different methods of approaching problems and resolving them. With a reading list that also includes works by Tim Ferriss, she has also applied yoga to her daily routine.

On the same day, Gleadle’s friend, Sultana Frizell (named after a winery in France) was also competing at York University in the hammer throw. With a 69.11 meter toss, Frizell earned a bronze medal, while American Amber Campbell obtained silver and a distance of 71.22 meters by Venezuela’s Rosa Rodriguez grabbed gold.

The gold medal for Gleadle reflects how far she has come in three short years. Making her Summer Games debut at London 2012, she became the first Canadian woman to qualify for the javelin final since the 1968 Mexico City Summer Games. Prior to Gleadle, the last Canadian woman to compete in javelin at the Summer Games was in Seoul 1988.

Rebounding after a back injury in 2013, she showed great potential in 2014. From fifth at the Commonwealth Games, she would follow it up with bronze at the IAAF Continental Cup and an impressive gold medal performance at the Birmingham Grand Prix Diamond League event. Such a milestone year was complemented by graduating from the University of British Columbia with a degree in kinesiology.