On July 23rd, five athletes plus a coach left Tumbler Ridge on their journey to the BC Summer Games in Kelowna to compete in track & field events. The BC Summer Games are held every second year, and involve 19 different sports such as cycling, soccer, volleyball, sailing, diving and more. This year around 2800 athletes took part. Track & field candidates only have one chance in their high school career to qualify for these games since it is for athletes who are 14 or 15 years old only. Coaches Linda Helm and Birgit Sharman were quite proud of the five girls who made the cut by excelling at the Spruce Capital track & field meet, which was held in Prince George in mid-June.
Linda Helm was honoured to be the local coach accompanying these girls. They traveled together to Chetwynd, where the Cariboo North-East Zone 8 bus took them, along with some other athletes from Chetwynd, to the airport in Fort St. John. About 30 athletes flew on a charter plane directly to Kelowna, landing at around 1am. Not much sleep was had that night, since everyone had to be ready to head to breakfast at 5:45 am. The rest of that day, Thursday, was spent picking up the athletes? information packages, going to the track venue for some orientation, relaxing at the beach, and then finally participating in the opening ceremonies in the evening. The Zone 8 track & field athletes and coaches spent the four days together, and many new friendships were formed with people from Prince George, Quesnel, Williams Lake, and Fort St. John.
The competition was held on Friday, Saturday and then Sunday morning. First up for Tumbler Ridge was Crystal Fry, who competed in the 1500m Race Walk. This was Crystal?s second race in this event, and she had been training diligently for it under the guidance of assistant coach Tiffany Hetenyi. Crystal?s hard work paid off, as she beat her previous time by a minute to finish in 5:59.59. This clinched 4th place, and indicates a great future for her in this event.
Kelsey Legault was busy competing in the Pentathlon for her first time. This involves five different events over two days, and is a grueling test of endurance. She trained very hard for this event, both in town with the local coaches as well as in Alberta, where she spent one week at the Legions Track & Field camp in Calgary, and five days training in Edmonton with her older brother and coach Max Legault. Kelsey threw a personal best 6.40m in Shot Put, and also had personal best results in Long Jump (4.21m) and High Jump (1.27m). She had never competed in the 80m Hurdles or the 800m run, but finished both events well with times of 15.55 seconds and 2:33 minutes respectively. The final result was that Kelsey finished an impressive 7th in the province in this tough event, and has had a taste of competing in the multi-sport event.
Natalie Sharman qualified in two throwing events, competing in one each morning. The first day of competition for her was Shot Put, and the huge benefit of having a new Shot Put circle to train at in Tumbler Ridge showed. She threw a personal best 8.83m, which placed her 8th overall. On the second morning Natalie competed in Discus, and was pleased to finish in 13th place. She credits her performances to lots of training, as well as tips from Max Legault.
Sprinter Kelsey Billey was busy on the track over the three days of competition. In the 80m Hurdles she ran a personal best 14.02 seconds to finish in 9th place. Kelsey was thrilled with this performance, as were her coaches. In the 100m sprint Kelsey finished in 13.77 seconds to finish 12th, and in the 200m she finished 11th in a time of 28.15 seconds. She was also a member of the zone?s 4x100m Relay Team, which finished in 5th place.
The youngest member of the team, Carina Helm was busy with two track events and one field event. In the Javelin she threw 16.01m to finish in 11th place. In the 3000m, which was on the final morning of competition, she finished in 10th place with a time of 12:14.28 minutes. The 300m Hurdles is a new event for Carina, and one that she trained the most for, improving her technique over the season. She ran a personal best 53.25 seconds to finish in 11th place overall.
After the closing ceremonies on Sunday afternoon, the team had time to relax before flying back home in the evening. Coach Linda Helm was very impressed not only with the performances of the Tumbler Ridge athletes, but also with how they conducted themselves over the course of the Summer Games. The future of track & field in Tumbler Ridge is certainly bright.