The prize was said to be a simple olive branch, but, in itself, worth far more than its weight in gold. For Koroibos, a humble Greek cook and athlete from the nearby town of Elis, the honour of winning the first recorded Olympic Games’ foot race—a mere 182.88 metres or 600 feet—at Olympia in 776 BC made him a legend.
Despite the many advances in track and field since, at its roots the sport is still made up of the fundamental movements of running, jumping and throwing. And the honour of winning is still just as prestigious as in ancient times.
For Lanie Man, a Richmond parent of a 10-year-old boy who is developing a particular penchant for the shot put, track and field’s versatility is the ideal foundation for a myriad of sports.
“Even if a child didn’t know how to play any organized sport, kids love to run,” says Man. “All they need is the opportunity to do it in a safe and fun environment.”
Man is promoting the British Columbia Elementary Track and Field Championships as providing that atmosphere. Scheduled to be hosted by the Richmond Kajaks for the 49th year May 26 to 28 at Minoru Park, the event offers the opportunity for elementary-aged athletes from around the province to realize their potential.
“It’s one of the few meets that is open to all elementary students from the ages of nine to 13, regardless of their school or the club they belong to,” Man explains. “And it gives the opportunity for a child to try any event and maybe discover that they are good at something.”
It’s how her own son started, at the age of nine. The only representative from his Richmond elementary school, he placed 10th in shot put among a field of 30 students—a result that served to only motivate him further. Since then, he has placed first in all the shot put events he’s entered and was No. 1 for his age group in BC Athletics’ junior development group last year.
“It has helped boost his self-confidence and made him dream big of going to the Olympics someday,” Man says proudly.
Describing the atmosphere at the provincial meet as one “where you can feel the adrenaline rush,” Man is anxious to see more Richmond kids experience the fun and competition and, like her son, find something they can be passionate about.
“I was surprised to see (among) the participants last year there were only a handful of Richmond schools,” she says. “Historically, since the teachers' strike the participation has dwindled. I've spoken to some teachers and principals and school staff and the issue has been there was no one to organize and it's usually a teacher who volunteers their time to do it. And it's (perhaps) not common knowledge that this event is open to all and that the school doesn't have to organize a team (though the Kajaks encourage that). Families can register on their own.”
For more information on the 2017 meet, visit kajaks.ca/events.