The Parkside C.I. grad now off to the University of Windsor had a memorable
summer capped with a top six placing at the World Athletics U20 meet
Monday, August 30, 2021
By Rob J. Ross
ST. THOMAS - Michael Roth never had the opportunity to realize his full potential on the track throughout high school.
The St. Thomas native has several highlights and set a few school records while at Parkside Collegiate Institute, but injuries and the covid pandemic robbed him of the possibility of more achievements.
This summer however, has been a breakout year for the soft spoken 19-year old, to say the least.
Roth has become one of Canada's rising young track stars after representing Canada in both the men's 200-metre dash and 400-metre run, at the World Athletics U20 championships, in Nairobi, Kenya, August 17-22.
On the global stage, Roth placed sixth in the 400-metre final, with a personal best time of 47.25 seconds. For the 200 metres, Roth advanced to the semifinals, posting another PB, of 21.14 seconds.
"I looked at those guys before and wished that I was that good. Now I am," Roth said this week after returning from the meet. "Amazing walking in there with all those guys from different countries. It was just awesome. While training and seeing the groups of countries from Europe and Africa, that was awesome to see."
Roth, son to parents Randy and Marilee and brother to Camryn, peaked at the right time, having the race of his life so far in his career, in the 400, his specialty event.
"I was going in ranked 16th or something so I wasn't thinking final. It was just, I'll go in and do as well as I can and see what it gets me," Roth said. "A lot of the guys who were ranked ahead of me didn't do so well (in the heats), so I got to bump in (to final). I was like, geez, I made an international final."
Despite the spotlight of a world final, Roth approached the final like any other 400 race.
"I didn't the let nerves get to me. I think that's what contributed to it," said Roth. "The two didn't feel as great as a four, but I still got a best."
Roth made impressive strides this season as earlier this year he was far from thinking world junior championships.
"Not a chance. After the time trials, Harry (St. Thomas Legion Club head coach Harry Stantsos) said, you should declare for Team Canada junior standards. I didn't declare. I kind of wrote that off, fact chance, you know. Then I kept getting closer (to the required qualifying time) each week. Then I declared four days before I made it. I was so skeptical. I did not believe that I could make this team."
Roth sparkled at Athletics Ontario's U20 championships in Toronto, where he met the world standard in both of his races and then capped the meet off by leading St. Thomas Legion to a gold medal, in the men's 4x400-metre relay race.
While at Parkside, where his love for sprints grew, Roth set school records, but was hampered with injuries in Grades 9 and 11 and lost his Grade 12 year to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
"What can I say, other than it has sucked," said Roth earlier this year, on not being able to run in 2020. "It was not fun. But what do you do. It's not like I'm alone."
Roth only made it to OFSAA, the high school provincial championships, once in his Grade 11 year in 2018, finishing ninth in the 200 and 11th in the 400.
"It stands out because it was my one and only time," said Roth, recalling highlights of his time as a Stampeder.
Earlier that season, Roth won both events at the Thames Valley Regional Athletics (TVRA) and Western Ontario (WOSSAA) championships meets.
His Grade 10 year was full of promise after winning WOSSAA gold in the 200, 400 and 400-metre hurdles, but a groin sprain suffered during the 400 at the OFSAA West regional, ended his season. His WOSSAA times would have won each of his races at regionals.
But that's around the time Roth started taking training more seriously.
"That's when I went from I'm ok, to I actually care about this sport. I started doing it for more than just fun," said Roth who attended elementary school at Trudeau and Forest Park, before arriving at Parkside. "I knew if I put more work in to it, I can get more results."
All along the way with Roth has been coach Stantsos.
"He has helped me a lot. He always believed. He'd be like, you can improve and I'd be like that's bull, but I would improve," laughs Roth. "I was skinny and had no muscle but I still did well. He has been an amazing coach."
Representing St. Thomas Legion, Roth ran a 48.69-second 400, to win the bronze medal, at the 2019 Legion National track and field championships. This was his last official until the U20s this year because of the pandemic.
Now Roth will be heading to the University of Windsor, to continue his track career and to study Law and Politics.
"I liked what the coaches are offering and they're a developing team," Roth said. "The course was appealing to me. I like the law aspect and politics is interesting. There's a lot of other stuff in that program, so if I don't want to end up doing that I have other options."
Roth seems to be on the cusp of realizing his full potential.