New Brunswick's track and field athletes won a record eight medals at the Canadian Track and Field Championships that were held in Moncton last weekend.
The medal haul from provincial athletes doubled the four medals that were won at the 2013 national track championships.
Along with the eight medals that were captured over the three days of competition, New Brunswick athletes also set several provincial records and two Canadian records.
The medalists were:
- Moncton’s Geneviève Lalonde won bronze in the 3,000-metre steeplechase with a time of 10:00.83.
- Dieppe’s Christel Robichaud won gold in the F56 discus throw with a new Canadian record of 15.10 metres.
- Robichaud also won bronze in the wheelchair shot put with a throw of 5.88 metres.
- Saint John’s Caleb Jones won silver in the javelin throw with a distance of 75.39 metres.
- Intervale’s James Brace won silver in the F56 discus throw with a provincial record of 17.24 metres.
- Brace also won gold in the wheelchair shot put and set a new provincial record of 7.83 metres.
- Hampton’s Barry Britt won gold in the 10,000 metres and set a new provincial record of 30:10.81.
- Campbellton’s Shayne Dobson won the gold medal in the T37 ambulatory 1,500 metre category with a time of 4:44.67.
The spike in New Brunswick medalists can be traced back to 2010 when Moncton held the IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships, according to Gabriel LeBlanc, the technical director for Athletics New Brunswick.
"We definitely saw a switch in 2010 when we hosted the world juniors," LeBlanc said.
"It kind of brought track to the forefront. We doubled our number of members.”
LeBlanc said that event prompted 700 young athletes to take up track and field. It also increased the number of volunteer coaches who are now helping across the province.
In addition, two full-time track coaches have been hired to work with the province's emerging athletes.
Athletes training in better facilities
The 2010 world junior track and field championships created a buzz in the province about the sport. However, another lasting legacy of those events revolves around the University of Moncton stadium.
The $23-million stadium was built to host the 2010 IAAF games.
Mitch Quigg, a decathlete from Saint John, said he feels the track at the Moncton stadium is the best in Canada.
He said it's similar to the one used for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Quigg said he travels three times a week in the summer to train in Moncton and spends the winter in the city.
"I live here in the winter. I come up for the winter and I stay with my girlfriend," he said.
"In Saint John, there's no indoor track where you can wear spikes or anything. So that's why I come up here because I have to train for high jump, long jump, pole vault and we can't do that in Saint John."
Both Quigg and LeBlanc say having the national championships in Atlantic Canada is also a first. They also said they hope this event will lead to more medals in the future.