Photo by Chung Chow
Garrett Collier wears a satisfying smile as he surveys the final few events Sunday at the 49th B.C. Elementary Schools Track and Field Championships at Minoru Park.
It’s been an exhaustive, but rewarding, weekend for Collier and his team of volunteers from the Richmond Kajakswhich has hosted the provincial event annually since it was established by Olympians Doug and Diane Clement when they founded the local athletics club in 1961.
The meet director, and head coach of the Kajaks, Collier retains fond memories of competing himself as an aspiring runner at Diefenbaker elementary.
“What I remember most vividly is realizing I wasn’t going to be a 100-metre sprinter anymore,” he says. “Coming in third, I understood I wasn’t the fastest guy, but it was a great learning process because it taught me there was always going to be someone faster. (In turn) that got me into throwing right away, and I still have friends to this day I met at this meet.”
Collier didn’t just become a proficient thrower, but an accomplished one who as a result of his success made numerous provincial and junior teams and earned a scholarship to the University of California-Berkeley. He later accepted a coaching position at the University of Hawaii, where he coached many future champions, before returning to his Richmond roots a few years ago.
Collier says the positive manner in which schools, and track clubs, from around the province have embraced this event through six decades is a testament to the dedicated volunteers. Year after year, he explains, they work tirelessly to ensure the young participants have a positive experience.
“For many of the kids this is their first contact to track and field,” he says. “Guys I went to high school with are now starting to have families of their own and putting their kids in the meet. That helps to build the sport and keeps the vision of track and field going.”