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'The main goal remains the Olympic Games': Record-setting Arop has priorities in place

Five months from the Paris Olympics, reigning world champion Marco Arop is "feeling as healthy as ever" while continuing to set Canadian records.

He ran to a pair of national marks in the span of a week to open his indoor season in the 800 metres and 1,000, finishing 54-100ths of a season shy of the world record in the latter event.

"The one thing that stood out in both [races] was how comfortable I felt from the start to finish," the Edmonton native said last week from Starkville, Miss., where he lives and trains.

On Jan. 27, Arop lowered his Canadian record in the 800 to one minute 45.50 seconds to win at the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. He also prevailed in the 1,000 at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, clocking 2:14.74 to top Nate Brannen's 2:16.87 run from 2014 and narrowly missed the 2:14.20 world record of Ayanleh Souleiman that has stood since Feb. 17, 2016.

"I wasn't necessarily chasing a time goal in the 800, and I felt I had a lot more left in the tank [at the end]," Arop said. "Running the 1K I was able to walk off [the track] not in so much pain. I did make a few errors in pace judgment … but overall, I was happy."

Unfortunately, track fans won't get to see Arop take another shot at the world mark this year as he and coach Chris Woods agreed to shut down the indoor season after the New Balance race in Boston.

"I want a couple of months of solid training before opening outdoors. I wasn't planning on chasing any times or records indoors," said Arop, adding he will transition to hill work and increasing his mileage in training. "The main goal remains the Olympic Games and winning a medal there."

WATCH | Arop captures world championship gold in men's 800m:

In an interview with CBC Sports,