Derek Drouin brought home bronze for Canada in high jump. (The Canadian Press)Canada's track team may have fallen short in its medal goal at the London Olympics but the athletes took a giant stride toward more podium showings at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Canada took 35 track rookies to the Games and they will only improve with four more years of training and experience.
Led by 22-year-old Derek Drouin's bronze medal in high jump, there were eight Canadians with top-eight finishes. Of the 11 athletes who finished in the top 12, eight were 25 years old or younger.
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The men's 4x100-metre relay team were agonizingly close to winning another bronze medal but were disqualified.
"We have been building a team in preparation for London for the last four years,'' Alex Gardiner, head coach of the Canadian Olympic track team, said in a news release. "The results here are one chapter in the story and now we are writing another one for Rio, with a biggest cast of athletes.
"We will be better and deeper and more experienced in full knowledge the rest of the world will be trying to do the same.''
Coming into the Games most of the medal hopes were pinned on Dylan Armstrong in the shot put and Jessica Zelinka in hepthalon.
Armstrong, 31, came into the Games ranked seventh in the world and finished fifth. Zelinka, 30, had the fourth best score in the world heading into the Games but finished seventh.
Neither has officially said if they will compete in another four years.
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Among the track highlights was Damian Warner in decathlon. The 22-year-old finished fifth, a great result considering his first international decathlon was last August at the world championships where he placed 18th.
"A star was born,'' Les Gramantik, a senior coach with Athletics Canada, said about Warner's performance.
Other performances of note was Phylicia George, 24, finishing sixth in the women's 100-metre hurdles and Mike Mason, 25, placing eighth in high jump.
Cam Levins, 23, held his own in a star-studded 10,000 metres to finish 11th, then battled a chest cold to be 14th in the 5,000.
"I'm going to be 27 and 31 at the next couple of Olympics,'' Levins told The Canadian Press. "Those are supposed to be my prime years. Hopefully I can be a medal contender by then.''
For the first time since 1996 Canada had three men racing the marathon. Reid Coolsaet, Eric Gillis, and Dylan Wykes all finished in the top 30.
The relay team of Jared Connaughton, Gavin Smellie, Oluseyi Smith and Justyn Warner brought back memories of when Canada was a force in the event. One step on a line by Connaughton took away the medal the team thought it had won.
Martin Goulet, Athletic Canada's chief high performance officer, said the $2.77 million Own the Podium spent on the track program this year showed results, especially in the relay.
"OTP's support of this program has lifted it back to be one of the best in the world.'' Goulet said. "The end result wasn't a medal but the statement was made that Canadian sprinters and relay are back.''
The track team's goal was three medals in London and six to eight top-eight finishes.
In Beijing Canada won one bronze medal in track and had five top-eight finishes. In Athens there were no medals and five top-eight finishes while in Sydney there were no medals and three top-eights.