New records set at track meet

November 1, 2015 by Adam Day

2015 Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships

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Nearly a thousand young athletes descended on the small Quebec communities of Sainte-Thérèse and Blainville to break records and have fun in the sun during the Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships, held Aug. 7-9.

And what a record-breaking weekend it was at Athletics Stadium Richard-Garneau, with more than 30 new Legion national records set in the three-day competition.

Opening ceremonies were held on Friday night. It was calm and warm near sunset as the athletes paraded onto the field, organized in formation according to their home province, and filed into the low bleachers lining the track’s start-finish straight.

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“I am delighted to join with organizers of these national track and field championships in extending the most cordial welcome to young athletes from all regions of Canada,” said Pierre Duchesne, Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec. “Your healthful lifestyle has already made you winners and I would encourage you never to compromise in that respect and always to set aside for yourselves a special place in your daily program to engage in sporting activities.”

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“I want to thank all the volunteers
and people who put this together for us.
It means a lot.”

Dominion Command Vice- President André Paquette also welcomed the athletes in his role as chair of the Dominion Command Sports committee. “The Royal Canadian Legion conducts these events in the name of those whose youth and life were cut short by the wars and conflicts this country has had to engage in,” he said. “We do it to honour those Canadians who still put on the uniform to serve their country and communities.”

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One of the first records to fall was in the unusual sport of racewalking. Fourteen-year-old Kyra Danielson of Vancouver won the Girls Under-16 1,500-metre racewalk for Team British Columbia, crushing the previous Legion national record of 7:51 with her time of 7:17. She is proud of her performance, she said, but she knows that some spectators have a hard time understanding the rules of racewalking. “It’s done with running arms, but you have to have a straight leg in contact with the ground and one foot on the ground at all times. It’s an awkward motion!”

There were many gutsy and impressive performances on the track during the weekend. One of the most amazing was in the Women Under-18 3,000-metre run. It was warm, but the track was fast as Ottawa’s Shona McCulloch led from the start. The pack never caught McCulloch, but they evidently tried so hard they ended up pushing through the wall—the first six girls collapsed, prostrate and heaving, after crossing the line.

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All recovered quickly, however, and McCulloch—a running prodigy who competes for the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club—expressed some disappointment with her blistering victory. “I was shooting for a good time,” she said, “but I fell short of what I was trying to get to.”

McCulloch was trying to beat her personal best of 9:36, and she finished in 9:46. “But at the same time,” she said, “I felt like I had a good race with a great group of girls.”

 

“With the veterans coming
out and yesterday when they
shot the cannons… just the
whole experience.”

This was McCulloch’s second gold medal of the weekend; she also won the Women Under-18 1,500-metre race in another blistering time of 4:35.76. “This is a well-run meet,” McCulloch said. “I want to thank all the volunteers and people who put this together for us. It means a lot.”

There must have been magic on the track, because national records were being broken throughout the weekend. In the Women Under-18 4×400-metre relay, Team Quebec—Jorden Savoury, Marie-Frédérique Poulin, Audrey Leduc and Audrey Jackson—won with a time of 3:51.32, crushing the national record of 4:06.08. The next six teams finishing behind them also beat the national record.

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In the Girls Under-16 4×100-metre relay, the Quebec team of Chloé Royce, Tatiana Aholou, Catherine Léger and Deondra Green again came through with a record-breaking time of 47.40.

Some performances stood out even though they didn’t result in a victory or a new national best. For example, Samuel Adams of Brampton, Ont., placed second in the Men Under-18 200-metre with a time of 21:89, only four-tenths of a second behind winner Chuba Hubbard and just a few strides over the national record of 21:20. Adams has been seriously competing at track only since July and this was his first national meet.

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“I’ve only been running for a month,” he said. “I did track at school but I’ve never pursued it. This is my first nationals, so it was kind of cool to see everyone from different provinces.”

Adams’ plan is to seek a scholarship from an American university after high school. “The atmosphere here has been amazing,” he said, “with the veterans coming out and yesterday when they shot the cannons… just the whole experience.”

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Team Ontario’s Trinity Tutti won three gold medals in the Girls Under-16 discus, shotput and hammer throw, setting three new national records while doing so. The spectacular performance earned her the award for standout female performer of the event.

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The Jack Stenhouse award for top male performer went to Team Alberta-N.W.T. member Aaron Marcynuk, who broke the Legion national record in the Boys Under-16 100-metre hurdles and won the Boys Under-16 pentathlon.

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Tutti and Marcynuk received their awards at the event’s closing banquet, a semi-formal affair held the day after the close of the athletic event.

Next year’s Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships will be in Sainte-Thérèse and Blainville again, in August 2016. 

 

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