Langley Mustangs president and jumps coach Kevin Harrison described the Bell Canadian Track and Field Championships as “a great show,” the result of hard work by “hundreds and hundreds” of volunteers.
“We did a great job,” a tired but happy Harrison told the Langley Advance Times following the close of the national championships, which were co-hosted by the Mustangs and Township of Langley.
Ending on Sunday, June 26, the five-day competition drew more than 1,600 athletes and 200 coaches to McLeod Athletic Park.
“It was a great show,” Harrison summarized.
It went as smoothly as it did because of a “core committee that had been working for two years,” Harrison told the Langley Advance Times.
“Our buzzword was, we have to pay attention to the show,” Harrison said, to make it an event both athletes and spectators could enjoy.
One of the head coaches from Team Canada told Harrison they were impressed with how hard the volunteers worked, and how well the event was organized.
Harrison said several athletes also remarked on the quality of the facilities at McLeod Athletic Park, which underwent more than $5 million worth of upgrades after Langley secured the bid for the games.
Improvements included a new track surface, a new four lane 60-metre warm-up track, an additional long jump pit, an expanded high jump, a new shot put area, an additional pole vault area, extra security fencing, and new designated spectator areas for the field events.
Harrison said it made fast times possible when middle-distance runner Marco Arop won the 800m final in a season’s best time of 1:44.39, with Canadian 800m record holder Brandon McBride a close second, in the event that drew the biggest crowd.
“It proved this facility is one of the best,” Harrison commented, one that supports “world class results.”
Weather conditions were close to perfect, though the heat was “challenging” for the longer-distance events, Harrison remarked.
“That was the one thing we couldn’t control.”
There may be some tweaks to the way events are scheduled next year when the championships return to Langley, to “try to put together a more compelling package for our spectators,” Harrison said.
He would also like to see more local athletes competing, to get the experience of participating in a major national competition, “to get a taste of what it’s like.”
“We’re hoping it’s a nice shot in the arm” for local track and field, Harrison added,.
Langley Township was originally awarded the 2021 and 2022 editions of the event, back in July 2017.
But with the pandemic forcing postponement of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, along with Athletics Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic Trials, the Langley date were changed and the Township is now hosting the 2022 and 2023 events.
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