by Alex Wilks/Special to the Langley Advance
With at least 50 competitions under her belt, student-athlete Georgia Ellenwood has her sights set on the fast approaching 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
“I have been debating this for a while, but this past year I won the national championship for college athletics and that was a pretty big feat for me,” she shared.
“It opened a lot of doors [and] I will continue to train until the 2020 Olympics.”
The 22-year-old – who just graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a bachelors in sociology and minor in environmental studies – competes at a national level in women’s track and field heptathlon events.
“My favourite part is that there is an aspect of individuality to the sport,” she said. “You train with a team and feel that you are part of a team, but your successes and failures are weighed on yourself.”
A heptathlon is a two-day event, consisting of seven individual competitions.
Four of them take place on the first day – the 100-metre hurdles, high jump, shot put, and a 200-metre sprint. Meanwhile, three occur on the second day – long jump, javelin, and an 800-metre race.
“A lot of people think that heptathletes compete in each event pretty competitively, yet the key for us is to be pretty good across the board, but not too great in one thing and lacking in something else,” Ellenwood explained.
Although she has always been interested in lots of different sports, at the age of 14 she decided to follow in one of her brother’s footsteps by pursuing this sport at a competitive level.
“My brother, Stuart, was pretty good and of course I wanted to do the same thing as him – so I just kind of fell into heptathlon,” she told the Langley Advance.
She also looked to gain an education, ultimately receiving a full-ride scholarship from Wisconsin, which she just finished.
“I realized that I could get a free education and it made me think that I could really go far in the sport.”
While admiring her brothers (Stuart and Dean) for their accomplishments in track and field, Ellenwood is the only sibling apparently still competing.
Now, she said, she’s striving to fill the shoes of Canadian Olympic heptathlete Brianne Theisen-Eaton.
“Competition is a way to kind of show yourself and prove to yourself that you have been working hard every time you step on the track.”
Needless to say, Ellenwood’s sweat and perseverance is finally starting to pay off.
She is only 27 points away from meeting the heptathlon requirements set forth by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“If I can meet the requirements in the 2019 season, it can be applied to the 2020 Olympic Games,” she noted.
“I would also need to come in the top two at the Canadian nationals next year,” Ellenwood explained.
She competed at nationals two years ago and loved the atmosphere within the heptathlete group and seeing all the familiar faces on the track.
“I think about the event probably a week before. My training is not as physically taxing as some people may think,” Ellenwood said.
“It’s more about working on small things and getting mentally prepared. The night before I work on bringing my self confidence up and mentally preparing for the event.”
The Langley native recently competed in the Calgary Track Takeover, the Harry Jerome Classic, and at a national level in the Pan American combined events cup in Ottawa – where she finished in first place.
“I haven’t worn the Canada gear and represented Canada for years,” she said.
“It’s always nice to come back and have Canadian pride again. After spending years in the U.S. competing, it feels good to be back wearing Canadian colours.”