By Brendan Shykora
It was a prosperous week for local under-20 athletes at the 2018 Canadian Track and Field Championships, thanks in particular to products of Louis-Riel High School. The Ottawa school saw four of its athletes win national silver at the Terry Fox Athletic Facility from July 3-8, putting it among the most well-represented secondary schools in the country.
Even more remarkable is the fact that all four young athletes are relatively new to their track and field events, having come from other sports in recent years.
“We’re definitely doing something right,” said Sebastian Lalonde, the track and field coach at Louis-Riel. Lalonde said he had expected this to be a rebuilding year for the program, but the high school’s senior athletes outperformed all expectations.
The most decorated of Louis-Riel’s competitors was Eliezer Adjibi, who secured silver in the U20 200 m dash and bronze in the 100 m.
“I came to nationals with no expectations, and I came out with a silver and a bronze, so I’m still happy with that,” Adjibi said.
Adjibi is brand new to the track and field scene, this being his first year of sprinting after switching from soccer. Just two years ago he won a regional soccer title with the Cumberland Cobras.
Born in Benin, Adjibi came to Ottawa in Grade 7. The CANI Athletics sprinter has been setting personal bests all season, and he did so again in the Saturday 200 m prelims with a time of 21.70. He went on to match that time in Sunday’s finals.
Also representing CANI Athletics was U20 women’s 100 m sprinter Kayla Vieux, who earned her silver medal with a 12.22-second sprint.
The Grade 11 athlete has only been doing outdoor track for two years. Before that her sport was volleyball.
“I did volleyball for a long time and I was pretty good, but I’m better at track,” she said, a statement her silver medal would seem to support.
At just 17-years-old, Vieux has many years and many goals ahead of her.
“I would like to go to the Olympics. That’s my dream, that’s what I’m training for.”
On Saturday Caroline Poirier of the Lions reached silver-medal heights in the women’s pole vault final as she beat her own personal best with a 3.70 metre launch.
Poirier, 17, was the 4th ranked U20 pole vaulter coming into the 2018 Canadian Track and Field Championships – but rather than think about the rest of the field, she came in focusing on setting a new benchmark for herself.
“I didn’t really look at the rankings standings, I just came in knowing that that’s the height I wanted to clear and that’s the height I did,” she said.
The former gymnast who switched to pole vaulting just two years ago allowed herself a smile and a slight fist pump after the wobbling bar on her 3.70 m jump stayed horizontal.
“I was really happy when I got off that mat,” she said.
Jonathan Rioux took home silver in men’s 3000 m steeplechase, a half-step ahead of Lions teammate Andre Alie-Lamarche. Rioux crossed the line with a time of 9:31.05.
Rioux says he and Alie-Lamarche feed of each other’s presence in races like this. “He’s always pushing the pace a couple of seconds faster every round,” he said.
Formerly a soccer player, Rioux decided to try out track and field in grades 7 and 8 as a way to improve his speed for soccer.
Outside of the Louis-Riel contingent, Lions’ Philip Frank had strong performance on both the track and the field, winning bronze in the U20 men’s 110 m hurdle with a time 14.64, and in high jump after leaping 1.95 m.
World Junior Championships
There will be more local juniors to watch in the coming days. The 2018 IIAF World Junior Championships begin July 19, and Ottawa U20 track athletes Keira Christie-Galloway, Lauren Gale and Sharelle Samuel will represent Canada on the junior world stage.
Christie-Galloway will compete in the women’s 100 m race, Gale the 200 m, and Samuel the 400 m at the events in Tampere, Finland.
Maeliss Trapeau, a graduate of Lycée Claudel high school in Ottawa, will also be at the World Juniors representing France. She’ll race in the women’s 800 m.