Deon Clifford narrowly missed out on a medal last weekend in Colombia.

Deon Clifford narrowly missed out on a medal last weekend in Colombia.

Tight race for Peninsula runner

Ocean Athletic member Deon Clifford narrowly missed out on a medal last weekend at the Pan-American Junior Championships.

Ocean Athletics club member and South Surrey resident Deon Clifford was half a second away from nabbing a medal at the Pan-American Junior Championships held in Medellin, Colombia last weekend.

The 18-year-old clocked a time of 9:25:87 in the men’s final 3000-m steeplechase Saturday, just .30 seconds behind Colombia’s Nelson Andres Blanco, who came in third.

According to Jim Clifford, Deon’s father and a coach at Ocean Athletics, the Peninsula runner followed a conservative race strategy because of the high altitude of the venue, going out near the back of the pack for the first few laps and slowly working his way through the runners.

With 500 metres to go, Clifford was in third place, picking up the pace as he neared home.

Despite the final push, Clifford was unable to match the speed of gold medal winner Yuber Echeverry (9:16:37) and Canadian Antoine Thibeault (9:17:09) who took home silver.

In the final lap, Clifford ended up in a close race with Blanco, who took home bronze with a time of 9:25:57.

According to Jim, Clifford was pleased with his effort, but could not find the energy on the last lap when he felt the effects of the thin air.

“He just felt the altitude effect, felt pretty weak and struggled over the last lap and the other Colombian caught up to him,” Jim said. “It was pretty exciting, pretty darn close.”

Clifford will now prepare for the Canadian Cross-Country Championships slated for Nov. 30 in Vancouver.