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UNB coach to support marathon and race walk teams at Paris Olympics

Christopher Belof is the head coach of the UNB men's track and field team.  (Andy Campbell/UNB Athletics - image credit)
Christopher Belof is the head coach of the UNB men's track and field team. (Andy Campbell/UNB Athletics - image credit)

The marathon at the 2024 Olympics in Paris will pass the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and the Château de Versailles, but Christopher Belof won't be posing for any selfies.

He says he will be focused on helping the athletes running the course and learning from some of the best in the sport.

"It's certainly a highlight of my career, it will be the highlight of my resumé," said Belof, who coaches for the University of New Brunswick and Athletics New Brunswick.

"All the early morning call times, those are mine."

Belof will help coach Canada's marathon and race walking teams in Paris. The Olympics run from July 26 to Aug. 11.

He says the honour didn't come as a total surprise. He's worked with two Canadian teams at world track and field championships, and teams like to have someone they know well going into the Olympics.

He will also serve as Canada's head coach at the world cross country championships in Serbia next months, and as head coach of Canada's team at the world race walk team event in Turkey this spring.

Belof is the lead endurance coach at UNB, working closely with the cross country team there. Belof was an endurance runner growing up, so he has a passion.

"The process of the sport has really resonated well with me," he said. "And I've always thought that this was somewhere that I can give back."

No time for sightseeing

Belof doesn't think he will have even much free time to take in the sights Paris has to offer. Instead, he says he'll be working.

"I'm a pretty blue-collar guy who's focused on supporting the athletes, making sure [I'm] doing the best job possible and everything in the camp leading into it is as good as possible for the athletes and their personal coaches and their preparations," said Belof.

Belof says an event in Budapest last year marked the first time he ever saw much of a city where he was coaching. That was only because a flight delay gave him some extra time there.

"I don't want to say you don't catch any of the venues or anything like that, but certainly it's a lot more businesslike," said Belof.

He doesn't imagine he will stick around after the Olympics. He's looking forward to getting the season started at UNB when he returns.

The marathon at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris will pass by some major sights.
The marathon at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris will pass by some major sights.

The marathon at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris will pass some major sights. (International Olympic Committee)

Learning opportunity 

Matt Candy, executive director of Athletics New Brunswick, says it's no surprise Belof was chosen for the job.

"Chris works very hard and is not afraid to put in the long hours athletics coaching requires," said Matt Candy, executive director of Athletics New Brunswick.

"To have a coach from New Brunswick have the opportunity of coaching at the Olympics has made myself and the athletics community extremely proud. Chris is so well deserving of this position."

Belof is looking forward to being around the top people in the sport at the Olympics, where he hopes he can learn from some of the best in the world.

"It changes your perspective in so many different ways, in how you understand the sport and how you understand the athletes and how you understand coaches and physiologists and therapists and what they do in those venues to create those performances," he said.

Belof hopes he can help make sure the athletes are as prepared as they possibly can be when it comes time to compete.

"The athletes are expected to perform on demand and can they deliver that? And if you've played a small part in that, that's a huge success," said Belof.

"If there are challenges, how do you solve them effectively and efficiently? And are you on top of the pivots that you need to make.… Those are the markers that I always reflect on and think about and try to improve and then … build off of each year."