Overcomes rough start in hurdles to win an U18 Athletics Ontario medal
while Savannah Vannoord takes home silver in U14 girls 200m hurdles
August 1, 2022
By Rob J. Ross
LONDON, Ont. - Emma Westbrook was getting tired of good but not great results.
Enter multi events, a contest where an athlete needs to good, perhaps not great, at several disciplines.
Westbrook captured the bronze medal, in the U18 women's heptathlon, a seven event contest, at Athletics Ontario (AO) outdoor championships, Saturday, at Western University, amassing 3401 points.
It's the first provincial heptathlon medal for the St. Thomas native, who trains at St. Thomas Legion track and field club, with coach Harry Stantsos.
Caitlyn Thompson, of club Athletiques Int., who won two events and placed second twice, won the U18 title, with 3875 points. Raeden Black, London-Western, took silver with 3480 points.
"I'm feeling pretty good," Westbrook said. "Starting off (day one), I was hoping hurdles would go different. Didn't go as planned, as I clipped a couple hurdles and that messed me up. But after that, I knew I had to make up for it. I PB'd in high jump and shot put, so that was good and the two (200 metres), I did what I expected."
In the opening event, the 100-metre hurdles, Westbrook had to settle for a time of 19.13 seconds, sixth place, three full seconds behind winner Thompson.
The result could have sunk Westbrook, but the 15-year old responded with a PB of 1.38 metres in high jump, tied for second best in the event and a PB throw of 9.02 metres, in shot put, good for third best.
Westbrook was fourth after day one.
"I felt good coming in (day two), because I felt they're my stronger events," said Westbrook. "Long jump was a season's best. Javelin went well and coming in to the eight, I did one last year, so I was feeling a little comfortable. I was trying to focus on how to pace myself. My coach (Harry) told me a split to aim for and I hit it right on. I was feeling good. I gave it my all at the end."
Westbrook was fourth in long jump (4.62m), third in javelin (26.60m) and won the 800-metre run, in a time of two minutes and 34.77 seconds (2:34.77), a six second PB.
"I was really nervous about javelin," said Westbrook. "I was practising with a 600 gram jav and it was a 500 we were throwing. That was a oh-oh moment, but it went alright."
Her hurdles may have cost Westbrook the silver and a push for gold, but the 16-year old didn't let the opening event derail her entire meet.
"I just knew coming off that, I had to put it behind me. I couldn't do anything about it after," Westbrook said. "I stayed positive, keeping focusing on what's ahead and not look back."
It's new adventure for the Central Elgin Collegiate student entering Grade 11 in September.
"It started with long jump and then I started doing more events," Westbrook said. "As I started doing more, I realized I was mid pack all of the time. So, that's alright, but when you want to go for a medal, it's kind of hard. My coach suggested multi events last year and I really liked it."
A year ago, Westbrook won a silver medal, in the pentathlon, at her first AO multi events competition.
"Last year it was just athletes competing. My parents couldn't even come into the stadium," said Westbrook. "This is a lot nicer. I actually have teammates and they were cheering me on. Definitely a better head space and positive energy coming in."
Westbrook led a team of seven athletes, at the three day meet, that also was the AO U14/U16/U18 outdoor championships.
"Small team. Young ones, babies actually, even," laughed Stantsos, "They're learning fast. This is the first championships for them. They did well. Our hurdles were better than expected. They listened. They're learning and this experience for them is great."
Savannah Vannoord won silver, her first track medal, in the U14 women's 200 metre hurdles, finishing in 32.11 seconds.
"It feels good, because I know all of the girls are really fast. I doubted myself at first, but it's really reassuring that I can keep up with them," Vannoord said. "When I was practising (warm-up), I wasn't confident getting over the hurdles, but as soon as the gun went off, I went for it. I kept going and I kept pushing."
The West Lorne resident, who attends St. Mary's elementary school, just missed a medal, in the 80-metre hurdles, finishing fourth, in 14.28 seconds. Vannoord also placed eighth, in the 150-metre dash (21.29 sec.) and ninth, in the 80-metre dash (11.13 sec.).
Vannoord, Aiyana John, Promise Atkinson and Heidi Thorpe, finished sixth, in the U16 girls' 4x100-metre relay race.
"We all get along well and we all work together. It's fun," said Vannoord, who along with her relay teammates and Lauren Geddes experienced their first provincial meet.
All of my teammates are really great people and I'm glad I can spend time with them," said Geddes, adding, "This was a great end to an amazing season. I thought it went really well. Harry has helped me improve a lot. I can definitely see and feel a difference in myself."
Geddes starts Grade nine at Parkside Collegiate next month and is happy coach Stantsos is a teacher at the school.
Aiyana John, was eighth, in U16 women's high jump and ninth, in long jump.
David Anderson placed seventh in U18 men's discus and eighth, in shot put.
Thorpe finished ninth, in the U16 women's 200-metre hurdles and 11th, in the 80-metre hurdles.
Atkinson had a best result of 11th, in the
200-metre hurdles, while Geddes placed 17th, in the same event.
Knelsen at U20 Worlds
Hallee Knelsen, of Malahide, did not advance from the women's 800-metre heats, this morning, at the World Athletics (U20) championships, in Cali, Columbia.
Knelsen, who trains with St. Thomas Legion, finished seventh in her heat, 18th overall, in a time of 2:09.09.
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