By Jonathon Brodie
Three London teens are hoping to jump over and sprint past the competition at this year’s World Youth Track and Field Championships in France.
Top-10 internationally ranked hurdlers Nicole Setterington and Christine MacNeill were selected to represent Canada at the track championships, along with their London Legion Track teammate Alysha Newman wearing the red and white in the pole vault.
“It’s the world, so we’re going to have lots of competition but it’s going to be good,” Newman said, who is ranked third in the world for her sport.
“It’s such a great experience and just to meet athletes there and just to see different venues and different tracks is just amazing.”
With Setterington and MacNeill ripping up the track with times less than 14 seconds, and Newman boasting the Canadian vaulting record at 3.96 meters, their London Track trainer, Sandy Cooper-Ryder, thinks they can put up a fight against some of the best young athletes in the world.
“I think they’re all capable, and think they should advance, and will,” Cooper-Ryder said.
“The three girls have so munch potential, but it’s really nice to see them peak and see them peak at the right time.”
All three girls admitted they are nervous for the big event in Lille, France, but say the nerves are good and are what keeps them on top of their game.
“You never know what can happen because it’s anyone’s day,” MacNeill said.
“Something can happen right out of the blocks, even bad wind, it’s anyone day. I’m sure (the competition is) scared to, just as scared as we are.”
The young teens will be going for gold but even if they come back with no hardware, knowing they gave everything they had is more important to them.
“I don’t want to jinx anything but we’re hoping to get a personal best (PB) down there,” Setterington said. “I think anyone would be happy if we got a PB. A medal would be awesome to bring back though.”
Even if the track stars don’t finish in the top standings, Cooper-Ryder said they would come home with something even if it were not a medal.
“I’m proud of them all the same for who they are, their character, and their discipline. This is a huge opportunity for them and for them to learn from it,” Cooper-Ryder said.
“It’s an opportunity for gaining composure, focus, and dealing with pressure. They need this experience to move forward.”
The event started Wednesday (July 6) and runs until July 10.
Both Setterington and MacNeill made it to the semi-finals but failed to place high enough to move on to the event’s final race. Setterington finished fourth in her semi-final heat with a time of 14.23 while McNeill finished seventh in the other heat with a time of 14.07.
Newman, on the other hand, is on her way to the final for pole vault on Saturday, July 9. She placed seventh in her preliminary heat with a 3.85-metre vault.
Follow Newman’s progress by visiting the IAAF World Youth Championship’s website (http://www.iaaf.org/wyc11/results/eventCode=4528/racedate=07-09-2011/bydate.html).