Photo by Chung Chow
Fifty years ago, a group of local track and field enthusiasts decided elementary school-aged kids should have their own provincial meet. Their vision has become one of the largest meets on the continent.
From May 25 to 27, some 1,600 kids will gather at Richmond’s Minoru Park to partake in the golden anniversary of the annual B.C. Elementary School Track and Field Championships.
“We are hoping a new and festive atmosphere will contribute to the excitement around the event,” says event head Garrett Collier.
Head coach of the Richmond Kajaks Track and Field Club which is co-ordinating the meet, Collier himself has fond memories of participating as an athlete.
“What I remember most vividly is realizing I wasn’t going to be a 100-metre sprinter anymore,” he told The Richmond Sentinel at last year’s meet. “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.”
That inspired Collier to instead try his hand at throwing. He didn’t just become a proficient hammer thrower, but under the guidance of his late father Richard one of Canada’s best. He went on to win many provincial and junior awards, and earned a scholarship to the University of California-Berkeley. He later coached at the University of Hawaii, before returning to his Richmond roots.
Volunteers have always been at the core of the elementary championships, and this year is no exception.
“Without our volunteers, none of this would be possible,” stressesCollier.
The meet traditionally features a large presence from Richmond schools, but organizers hope to build on this for 2018.
The event was created to provide young track and field athletes with a fun and safe competitive experience. All elementary school-aged athletes are welcome to participate, regardless if they are new or experienced in the sport. And they do not have to represent their school to enter the meet. Kajaks is offering an early-bird entry fee of $7.50 per event.
“The kids can expect music, limited edition official merchandise, a new medal design and a great environment to compete and have a great time,” says Collier.