For Leah Pells, competing at the B.C. high school track and field provincial championships was an eye-opening experience.
Competing for Langley Secondary at the 1980 and 1981 championships, Pells didn’t find the podium, nor did she run particularly well.
“I remember I didn’t run well either year, so I was disappointed,” she recalled.
“I don’t think I placed higher than eighth. But it was a great event.”
Of course, her lack of podium finishes didn’t hamper Pells, who went on to compete at three Olympic Games for Canada as a middle distance runner and at one point was ranked No. 1 in the world.
“I always tell kids that if you don’t do well there, there is still lots of time,” she said.
“Whatever happens there, you can build on it and propel yourself forward.
“I always remind kids that this is just one experience of many that you are going to have.”
Starting Thursday (June 1), 2,500 athletes will go for gold as McLeod Athletic Park hosts the 2017 B.C. high school track and field championships.
The meet runs until Saturday.
And to celebrate the meet’s 50th year, former Canadian Olympic athletes, national team members and provincial high school champions, will be on hand throughout the meet to present medals in the various events.
The list of presenters is still being finalized, but will include shot putter Dylan Armstrong, who won bronze at the 2008 Games.
Andrew Lenton serves as the track and field commissioner for BC School Sports, and he says while the event itself has gotten bigger — more athletes competing and the ability to live stream events thanks to advances in technology, to name a couple — the meet remains a marquee event.
“When I competed in high school, this was one event that was on the national landscape,” he said.
Lenton won bronze in the 1500m in 1984 as a Grade 10 student.
“This is where you want to be at your best and I don’t think that has changed (over time).”
For more on the championships, visit www.langleytimes.com.