Practice makes perfect for PGSS hurdler
Ted Clarke | Prince George Citizen May 24, 2016 09:24.
Lindsay King’s jumping stride is like that of an animal you might see on an African safari. Watching her gracefully leap the hurdles in the junior girls 80-metre event Saturday at the north central zone high school track and field championships was like watching a springbok take flight to escape the clutches of a charging lion. The 16-year-old Grade 10 student at Prince George secondary school won the race easily in 13.06 seconds, just one-hundredth of a second off her personal best time. “It felt pretty good,” said King. “It’s a lot of practice and it works good in your races if you work a lot in practice. “This is King’s seventh season as a member of the Prince George Track and Field Club. As a first-year junior last year at the B.C. high school championships, King finished second in the 300m hurdles and will be looking to better that mark when she returns to the provincial meet, June 2-4 in Nanaimo. “I’m not as fast (in the 300) but I have enough endurance to keep it up the whole way, whereas a lot of girls don’t have the endurance to keep it up the whole way,” said King. “I’ve always liked hurdles. I have long legs so I could always do it pretty good. It’s more fun than just running, that’s boring.”King says she can feel her knee at her chest and can see her foot as she straightens out her leading leg to clear the hurdle. “She has beautiful long legs and arms and she’s so graceful going over the hurdles – it’s so effortless for her and she’s an amazing runner,” said PGTFC junior coach Carly Frenkel. “We just have to fix her arms.”Frenkel is trying to get King to bend her arms into her body more as she leaves the blocks to speed up her starts, but other than that, there are few flaws in her hurdles races.On Friday, King captured gold in the junior girls 300m hurdle event, stopping the clock in 50.77 seconds, well off her personal best time of 46.57. “It’s hard here (to get a PB) because there’s not as much competition to push you,” she said. She also won the junior 400m in 1:05.74 (five seconds off her best time) and was the first junior girl across the line in the 200m, winning in 28.50. At provincials, she will race the 80m and 300m hurdles as well as the 400m run.King has qualified for the Legion national meet the past two years and competed in the event in 2014, but did not go last year. The meet is on her radar again and this time she hopes to be racing in Sainte-Thrse/Blainville, Que., Aug. 5-7. She’s moved up an age group at the national level, which means she will be running 400m hurdles, rather than 300m hurdles.
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Robyn Barwise is coming to a crossroads in her athletic pursuits.
Having turned 15 in March, she’s at an age where it doesn’t matter what sport she tries, she’s good at it. But right now there are too many sports on her plate and not enough time, and that’s forcing the hand of the Grade 9 Prince George secondary school student.
She’s involved in competitive speed skating, wrestling, basketball, volleyball, soccer and track and field and would love to give rugby a try, but something has to give. Track, speed skating and cross-country running will remain prominent on Barwise’s priority list, but it seems her days as a wrestler and volleyball player are numbered.
“I do a lot of stuff and I’ll probably have to choose right away,” Barwise said.
“It’s kind of an on-off thing in wrestling. I really like some meets but sometimes I’m just not feeling it. I’m really good at wresting but I think I like speed skating and cross-country running more. I’m better at track, but I’ve been doing soccer since I was four and it’s fun. I think I’ll drop volleyball next year.”
Barwise moved to Prince George from Mackenzie last September and made great strides on the ice with the Prince George Blizzard speed skating club, finishing third in the province in her age category and eighth at the Western Canadian championships.
Her Prince George address also gave her the chance to train full-time with the Prince George Track and Field Club. But lately, between track workouts and soccer games and practices, all that running has taken a toll and she’s developed shin splits from not getting enough rest. If the pain was bothering her, Barwise didn’t show it this past weekend at the north central zone track and field championships at Masich Place Stadium. She won the junior/juvenile girls 2,000-metre steeplechase, and the 400m, 800m and 1,500m runs, and also won the juvenile triple jump and competed for PGSS in the 4 X 400m relay race.
“She’s just a strong girl, and that comes out on the steeple,” said PGTFC coach Brian Martinson.
“She placed very high in our cross-country season as a Grade 9, racing with the seniors. The problem with kids like her is they often overdo it, but that will settle down. She’s a tough, multi-sport kid.”
With her success at the zone meet, Barwise is now qualified in all her running events for the provincial track and field championships in Nanaimo, June 2-4.
Martinson figures Barwise will be a strong contender in the steeplechase and the 3,000m events at the B.C. Summer Games in Abbotsford, July 21-24. Next year, when she’s old enough to compete in the youth category, she will be taking aim at the Canadian Legion national championships.
“She’s a little ways off for that, and she has a little work to do to get to that level, but Summer Games will be a good indicator because you get kids from all over the province,” said Martinson.
Barwise played on the PGSS junior basketball and volleyball teams and was back on the mats for her sixth season on the high school wrestling scene, where she finished second out of 19 at the B.C. age class meet in Edmonton and qualified for the national finals for the second straight year. She also played school soccer and helped the Polars win bronze at the north central zone triple-A tournament two weeks ago in Quesnel.
Barwise missed two of the three tryouts for the Timberwolves club basketball team due to conflicts with her volleyball and wrestling schedule, and as it turned out she didn’t make the team. She considered rugby, but there was no way she could fit it in.
Her wrestling and lacrosse background made her more aggressive and toughened Barwise mentally and physically. That helps her excel in speed skating races and keeps her focused when dealing with the pressure of serving a volleyball in a close game. She’s added four inches of height in two years and continues to get stronger and develop endurance – a key to her victory in the steeplechase Saturday.
“That was my second steeplechase and I really like it – I like long distance,” she said. “I think steeple is my favourite to compete in at track meets. It’s challenging and just different from anything else.”
Barwise’s father Ken coached her in lacrosse and is coaching the PGSS track and wrestling teams. He says she’s always had a strong work ethic, which also shows in her grades at school, and from an early age she’s shown her passion for playing sports.
“She played lacrosse until two years ago, when size (compared to the boys) made a big difference and then she switched to competitive soccer,” Ken said. “She’s always had the lung capacity and her wrestling was awesome this year but I think she’s going to quit it, which is too bad because it’s probably the sport she’s best at.”
Now that she’s into her mid-teens, picking one or two sports as her specialty is necessary for her to stay competitive with her peers at the highest level.
“In speed skating she’s realizing that the girls who are ahead of her – and she’s starting to close that gap – are only speed skating, and it’s killing her to choose, but she’s going to have to choose,” said Ken.
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Under normal circumstances, Geoff Martinson would be going full speed ahead, trying to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
Instead, the 30-year-old distance runner is on the limp. He’s been dealing with a right knee injury since early January, one that’s keeping him from pursuing a spot on Team Canada for the Games, Aug. 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Bottom line? His Olympic dream is over.
“At this point, I’m really just trying to get back to being able to run normally at all,” said Martinson, who was born and raised in Prince George and has been living in Vancouver for the past two years.
“I’ve kind of come to peace with it all now. But at the time, I knew exactly how fit I was (before the injury) so I was very aware of how much I was losing with every week that went by. I’ve had my share of injuries throughout my career, but something like a stress fracture, it’s just about waiting it out. It will heal. But with this one, I was seeing a sports doctor weekly, I was seeing (a physiotherapist) every few days, getting massaged. Nothing I threw at it would help.”
Martinson missed representing Canada in the 1,500-metre distance at the 2012 Olympics in London. For these Games, he was targeting the 5,000m race and needed to make the Canadian Olympic standard of 13 minutes 25 seconds. That, along with a top-two finish at July’s Canadian championships in Edmonton, would have guaranteed him a trip to Rio.
Martinson’s personal-best clocking in the 5,000 is 13:43 – admittedly off the Olympic pace, but he liked his chances of trimming his time.
“It was always going to be sort of a long shot (to qualify) but I was definitely confident I had a good chance of hitting it,” he said. “Just based on the way training was going, and early-season races and past results, I definitely thought there was a good chance of it.”
Martinson’s injury isn’t linked to one specific incident. He said it “came on out of nowhere” and first presented itself with a sharp pain several hours after a morning workout. Initially, the discomfort was on the side of his kneecap and his doctor tried to treat it with cortisone injections. Now, Martinson said the spot that’s giving him trouble is right under the kneecap and is difficult to reach with any kind of treatment.
He had an MRI exam a few weeks ago and said it showed “a mixed bag” of results.
“The main finding was a thickening of one of the minor ligaments in the knee joint,” said Martinson, one of the most successful athletes in the history of the Prince George Track and Field Club. “Although the ligament itself isn’t especially important, its location within the joint causes it to rub against the kneecap with movement and become irritated. I don’t know if I can say it’s good or disappointing that there wasn’t a more conclusive finding, such as a tear, but it gives me something to focus on with treatment going ahead.”
Martinson, who considers his 1,500m semifinal appearance at the 2011 world championships as his track and field highlight, is now shifting his focus away from competitive running and toward his career objectives. He graduated from the University of Victoria in 2009 with a biochemistry degree and is currently enrolled in the University of British Columbia’s pharmacy program.
“It’s a really good program and it’s going well,” he said. “I’m pretty involved with the undergrad society and there are various organizations for pharmacy, (including) the Society for Hospital Pharmacy. I’m involved with that as one of the student ambassadors so, outside of running, there have still been some really good opportunities to try and do some neat things.”
After Martinson graduates from the UBC pharmacy program, he plans to apply for hospital residency.
“That’s the path to do hospital pharmacy,” he said. “So if I get into residency I’ll do more clinical work in a hospital setting.”
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