Para-athlete finishing university at Western while focusing on long jump
training for the 2022 indoor and outdoor track and field seasons
January 29, 2022
By Rob J. Ross
AVON, Ont. - Madie Wilson-Walker is keeping busy during these unusual times.
From her training in long jump, finishing university, coaching youth over in Ireland, to making an advertisement for Lululemon, the para-athlete has not slowed down.
"I've been all over," Wilson-Walker said. "I was in Ireland for three months. I came back for the holidays and the second semester of school."
Wilson-Walker is in her final semester in Disability Studies, at Western University and completing her BA in three years.
At the same time, the 24-year old is working towards being a certified personal trainer, enrolled in a course outside of school.
All the while, the Avon resident and graduate of Lord Dorchester Secondary school, continues to train in long jump and sprints.
When the Ontario University Association indoor track and field season resumes mid February, Wilson-Walker will be competing for the Western Mustangs, in the 60-metre sprint and long jump.
"My focus is the indoor season for my last year at Western," said Wilson-Walker, who competes with carbon fibre running blades. "Luckily I'm still able to train right now. I got under the training for the Paralympics exemption. I've been training at the track in Dorchester and I have a home gym with all of the equipment that I could need for lifting."
Come the outdoor season, Wilson-Walker has her sights set on entering Grand Prix meets in Europe, geared towards her goal of qualifying for the world para athletic championships, in 2023.
Originally scheduled to be held in Japan, this year, the meet was pushed back a year and moved to Paris, France.
"That'll be my next goal to make the (Canadian) team for that competition," Wilson-Walker said.
Her main event is long jump, with the 100-metre dash being a secondary event during the outdoor season.
"I'll dabble a little bit in the 100 metres, but it wouldn't be my main priority," Wilson-Walker said. "I would compete in the 100 whenever they have it at a meet and doesn't conflict with long jump. A lot of time they're (her two events) are at the same time."
Last summer Wilson-Walker missed her goal of qualifying in long jump for the 2020 Paralympics. Her final opportunity came at the Nxtchamp Invitational at York University in July, where her best of 4.17 metres was short of the required distance.
"That was really tough," admits Wilson-Walker. "That was my last chance to qualify. I was having the best season in terms of training. I didn't have any injuries. Everything seemed perfect. It was really hard that I couldn't do it on competition day. Or I could, but then there would be a slight fault and my jump wouldn't count. I think I had three meets in a row where I had six faults. So I faulted all of my jumps."
It's hard for Wilson-Walker to put a finger on what prevented her from attaining the standard at the final qualifying meet, but she didn't dwell on the disappointment.
"I went into the meet with a good attitude. I was really excited. Then it just didn't happen that day. My main goal was to qualify. I was quite upset for a few hours after. I had a good cry," Wilson-Walker said. "Normally if a meet doesn't go my way, especially at a big competition, I get quite down on myself. I was sad, but it only lasted that day. It helped me grow stronger mentally."
Wilson-Walker contemplated not entering another meet for the outdoor season, however, her decision to keep competing awarded her a positive experience.
"That was a good decision to continue to train and use a couple of the smaller competitions. That kept me a little sane instead of stopping. I'm glad I pushed through those hard times and still competed."
This year, Wilson-Walker aims to increase her long jump personal best of 4.32 metres.
"I'm hoping to go over five metres this year. I got a lot of training in when I was in Ireland. I had the strongest base season I've ever had."
Wilson-Walker spent three months in Ireland late last year, training with boyfriend Jordan Lee, a high jumper on the Irish para athletic team.
"We hadn't seen each other in over a year and a half because of covid and not being able to travel. Back in the fall he came here for a week. Then I flew back with him and stayed there for the duration of first semester. I did school online," Wilson-Walker said. "We helped coach younger age groups at his track club. I got in some volunteer work and we had a couple of speaking engagements."
Prior to Ireland, Wilson-Walker shot an advertisement for Lululemon out in British Columbia.
"I've done modeling in the past but not with Lululemon," Wilson-Walker said. "It was really cool. I had an interview and then they sent me to the store for a fitting and then flew me out to Vancouver. It was a long day. We started at 5 a.m., with hair and makeup and then we went to the shoot location. We did the shoot until 3 or 4 p.m. They took a ton of video of me running, warming up and putting on the gear and they took a lot of photos."
The video appearing in Lululemon stores, came out earlier this month.
"I actually didn't know it was out, until one of my friends from high school saw it at the store in Vancouver," said Wilson-Walker. "She asked, were you in a Lululemon commercial, because I saw you on the big screen at the store."
Wilson-Walker may again be on the screen, but next time the video could come from the long jump pit at an international meet.
Until then, it's unlikely Wilson-Walker will be slowing down any time soon.
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© 2022 Hometownplay.ca