Athletics Canada selects the St. Thomas native for Pan-American Cup in Brazil
By Rob J. Ross
ST. THOMAS - Aiden Coles had good reason to interrupt the class.
The Grade 12 student at St. Joseph's high school had just received confirmation of being named to Athletics Canada U20 team for the 2022 Pan-American cross country Cup.
"I was in class and I told my teacher that I was going to be finding out about it and it could be during class," Coles said. "About 20 minutes later, I got an e-mail saying that I got selected. I told my teacher and she screamed out to the class."
The 18-year old St. Thomas native, who trains with the London-Western track and field club, will be part of a four member team that will race in Serra, Brazil, March 27.
"I'm excited to go, said Coles, of his first international meet. "That's been my biggest goal in running, to make a national team and hopefully one day make the Olympics."
Earlier this year, Coles completed a form applying to the team and then waited to see if he was considered by Athletics Canada.
Last fall, Coles won the U18 race at Athletics Canada cross country championships, in Ottawa. Aiden's brother, Tristan, felt that accomplishment should carry some weight in the selection process.
"We didn't know how the selection was going to work, said Aiden. "My brother thought I would be a locked pick, but I never thought of it that way. I won Nationals but it wasn't the under 20 Nationals. I wasn't really sure if that would be a key factor, but I guess it was."
London-Western clubmate Jalen Marcil, of London, made the women's U20 team for the event.
Both Coles and Marcil are coached by Dave Mills.
"He's really got me to where I am now. Without the work outs he gave me, I definitely wouldn't have won Nationals," said Coles, of coach Mills. "He started getting kilometre repeats in. He built my strength and he has always been confident in me. He's really developed me as an athlete."
Team Canada will be coached by two-time Olympian Bruce Deacon.
Coles is disappointed his brother didn't get selected, but happy for Marcil.
"I've been running with Jalen a long time, so it's cool to see that she also made it," Coles said.
Three other members from London-Western made the senior team - Mike Tate, Connor Black and Phil Parrot-Migas.
Named to a National team moves almost to the top of Coles' career highlights, right there with winning his race at Canadians and receiving a scholarship from Iona College, in New York State.
"Nationals (race) is my favourite one I'll look back at, because it's the first big thing that I was able to accomplish in running and then coming to Iona," Coles said. "Making my first National team is something I'll never forget."
Coles won't have to buy a shirt either.
"I'm very, very excited to get the gear," Coles said. "I've some Athletics Canada gear that I bought, but to know that I've earned it, is special."
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