Standing atop the podium, wrapped in the flag of her home and native land, Camryn Rogers started to realize the enormity of the achievement.
“I think that’s the moment it hit me most, when they were playing the national anthem,” said Canada’s latest golden girl, who returned to a hero’s welcome from family and friends after winning the women’s hammer throw in a meet-best 63.42 metres at the under-20 Pan American Track and Field Championships in Trujillo, Peru.
“You hear other country’s anthems and only imagine what it must feel like,” said Rogers. “My heart felt so full, and I saw the rest of the team standing there in the stadium cheering. I was just happy to be part of the team and get another medal (for Canada). We had the second most medals (22, the best Canadian total since winning 30 in 1984) behind the U.S. so everyone was stoked. They are all great athletes and I’m looking forward to seeing these people again in the future because I know they’re all going to do amazing things.”
One of the youngest competitors at the Pan-Ams (she only turned 18 in June), the R.A. McMath Secondary grad is fast becoming a household name as one of Canada's top young athletes. But despite her success, she remains grounded and humble—always quick to credit others for their support. That includes Garrett Collier, her longtime coach with the Richmond Kajaks, and close friend and fellow hammer thrower Chanelle Botsis, who placed fourth at the Pan-Ams with a throw of 58.70 metres.
“(Botsis) and I have trained together since I started with Kajaks five years ago,” said Rogers of her constant companion and roommate in Peru. “She’s also really focused and helped keep me on track too.”
Collier, who began coaching Rogers in 2014 following the passing of his dad and former Kajaks’ coach Richard, said it didn’t take long to appreciate Rogers was a special talent.
“It was competitive for women’s hammer to make world youth and she threw really well that year (2014) but didn’t make it. But she still managed to come back and have a really great Canadian junior championship in Edmonton and ended up breaking the youth record in Nanaimo the weekend after. At that point I kind of knew she was willing to duke it and compete. It’s the reason she did so well in Peru.”
Longtime Dixon Elementary teacher and track coach Lee Hunter isn’t surprised by Rogers’ prowess either.
“I also remember her as a very good runner in Grade 6 and 7, but never one to place herself in front of anybody else,” Hunter said. “She has a personal inner-drive that you don’t see outwardly, but a mindset I believe that is built for success. The distance she threw at Pan-Ams, and her basically being two years younger than some of the girls competing, bodes well for her. The possibilities are endless.”