Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Track athletes tune up for Games at nationals

Track athletes tune up for Games at nationals
Smith and McGuire both like the new athletics facility in Charlottetown
The Guardian

What if?
It’s a popular question for most athletes.
Islanders Spencer Smith and Conor McGuire asked it following their results at the 2009 Canadian junior track and field championships held recently at the new UPEI Alumni Canada Games Place in Charlottetown.
But often the answer is less of what they didn’t do and more of what they can do better.
“I feel fairly good about my performance in the 5,000-metre,” said McGuire, who finished 10th with a time of 15.51.95. “However, I feel if I would have kicked (picked up the pace) earlier in the race I would have been able to catch one or two more people.
“My goal was to break 16 minutes . . . and I did reach this goal. However, I did have some energy left at the end so I feel I could have taken another 10 to 15 seconds off my time.”
The 18-year-old McGuire, a Summerside native, now ups his training for the 2009 Canada Summer Games next month in P.E.I. where he will race at the same stadium.
The national junior championships were used a warm up for the Canada Games and a test of the facility.
The $6.8-million track and field venue features a 400-metre, eight-lane synthetic oval track, a water jump for steeplechase, a facility for long and triple jump, pole vault, discus and hammer throw, javelin throw and shot put, a warm-up track, storage facilities, washrooms and spectator seating.
The championships were originally scheduled for Moncton, but organizers moved the event to Charlottetown because the Moncton facility wasn’t ready.
It also served as a qualifier for the Pan American junior championships later this month in Trinidad and Tobago.
Athletes’ complaints of the new stadium ranged from lack of warmup space to skimpy wind barriers on the fences bordering the track to a soft running surface.
McGuire said he’s heard the beefs but doesn’t agree with them.
“The facility seems to be quite amazing and everything was very well organized,” he said. “Some people were complaining about the track being too soft, (but) I believe it was just the right firmness and the traction was unbelievable with spikes.”
Smith, 17, saw little to gripe about, either.
“I thought the facility was great. I heard some complaints about a few different things, but I thought it was organized very well,” he said.
The Ten Mile House native finished in 50.95, good for 11th place over in the men’s 400-metre finals and set a personal-best time of 50.69 in qualifying.
Like McGuire, Smith has the Canada Games in his sights, but first he stops at the Atlantic outdoor championships, Aug 1-2, in Oromocto, N.B.
“Overall, I was pleased with my performance. I didn’t quite get the time I was hoping for, but I still got a few more things that I can improve on and help to better my time,” he said. “I was fairly close to reaching my goals.”
Other Islanders who competed at the meet included Lauren Hurry, who failed to qualify for the women’s long jump final, Megan Boswell, who finished 21st overall and did not advance to the women’s 200-metre final, and Dylan Arsenault, who failed to qualify for the men’s 100-metre final.

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