More than 400 students from 19 local elementary schools are competing in a city-wide track and field event at Twin Lakes Secondary School today.
The event convener, Stan Man, who is also a teacher at Lions Oval Public School, says each individual school has its own track and field day leading up to the event to select its top two athletes for each competition.
“The kids look forward to this,” Man said. “Especially after three years off from the pandemic.”
Man says the variety of competitions is what makes the event special. The competitions include the 60-metre, 200-metre, and 400-metre races. There is also a relay event for Grade 6 students, a running long jump, a standing long jump, and a ball throw.
“Everybody has a chance to try a bunch of different sports to see what they like,” he said. “It’s something that everybody can do without any special skill.”
The main goal of the event is to increase awareness for health and fitness, Man says.
“You see a lot of parents and grandparents here today,” he said. “It’s about family bonding as well.”
Man says families who are at the event today know the importance of school involvement, physical education, and health.
Athletes in grades six, seven, and eight will have their chance to compete on Thursday. Man hopes most of the athletes will continue with track and field once they’ve graduated from elementary school.
“They have more events like shot put and high jump once you get to high school,” he explained. “What we are doing today is giving the kids exposure to it, and maybe they will find a life-long love of participating in physical education events.”
Grade 5 Couchiching Heights Public School student, Rowan Dupuis, finished first in her 200-metre grouping on Tuesday afternoon.
“I was really excited,” she said. “I only practised for a day, so I didn’t expect to do as well as I did.”
Dupuis says the city track and field competition is one of the best days on the school calendar because it gives her the chance to shine in front of friends and family.
“I love being able to pursue track and field,” she said. “I also play on the school basketball team and that takes a whole team's cooperation, but this is an individual sport where it’s up to me to do well.”
Grade 6 Orchard Park student, Lily Robbins, also finished first in her 200-metre grouping on Tuesday.
“I came here today with no real expectations,” she said. “I practised just the one time at school and that’s it.”
While Robbins says she felt as if her legs were caving from underneath her during the run, it was a rewarding feeling to cross the finish line ahead of her peers from other schools.
“It’s a little bit intimidating competing against other girls from the different schools,” she said. “There are some really tall girls who are a lot faster here today.”
Robbins says the highlight of the day has been spending time with her classmates.
“This is a day I’ll remember for a long time,” she said. “I think this is something I’ll definitely do again next year.”