Going full speed: Young St. Mary's girl to compete at North American Indigenous Games
Young track and field athlete nervous but excited to represent community at games in Toronto
Madison Wilson takes off at full speed.
She hurdles toward the sand pit, then, seconds before her feet touch the board, she takes two last strides and leaps into the air, conscious all the way of every step, every move that she makes.
At 12 years old, Wilson is about to become one of the youngest athletes competing in the North American Indigenous Games from July 16 to July 23. She'll turn 13, the eligible age for participants, not even a month before the games start.
"I'm really nervous," she said, "because I'm actually going to be one of the youngest ones there,
"And I'm really scared because I feel like the older kids are going to be faster and all that, but I feel like at the same time, I can do it if I put my mind to it."
Determined at training
Her coach, Carl McIntosh, measures how far she jumps when she lands.
"That's 4.6 metres," he said.
McIntosh has been coaching Wilson at the Fredericton Legion Track Club since January.
She's very strong, and she works really hard. She adapts to coaching suggestions that I have for her and she does really well.- Carl McIntosh , coach
He said she's very determined.
"She's very strong, and she works really hard," he said. "She adapts to coaching suggestions that I have for her and she does really well."
Wilson will compete in the 80-metre dash, shot put and long jump at the games. She trains at the track in Oromocto twice a week. She also trains at home, on the treadmill, and at school.
When she's not at the track, she plays hockey, soccer, badminton, volleyball or baseball.
"I feel like if I do keep doing what I'm doing I can get some place with it," she said. "And it'll be more than just going training once a week, it's going to be something that I'm into as I'm older."
Representing her culture
The Indigenous Games are special, she added. It's where talent converges with her heritage.
"I'm really excited for the opening ceremonies because it's just a huge event where I'm representing St. Mary's and my culture," Wilson said. "I'm really excited."
Wilson found out last year that she'd be going to the games. She was competing at the Indian Summer Games in Miramichi when a scout for New Brunswick's team for the Indigenous Games approached her.
She said she cried when he asked if she wanted to go.
"I was really excited and happy," she said. "I've been running for a really long time, so I guess all the hard work I've been doing has paid off and I'm going somewheres with it."
21 athletes from New Brunswick
On July 14, Wilson and 20 athletes from First Nations communities around the province are going to Toronto, where they'll compete against Indigenous communities from across the continent.
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Wilson said she's already become friends with some of the other members on the team. They've met a few times to practise and get to know each other.
I know I'm one of the few kids that will go, and just being able to say when I'm older 'yeah, I witnessed that,' like basically being able to tell kids that if you put your mind to something you can do it.- Madison Wilson, athlete
Her coach for the games, Athena Francis, competed at the last games, in 2014. She said it's an amazing opportunity to meet people from different Indigenous cultures.
"It kind of feels like we all come from different tribes and we're all coming from different areas and coming as one," Francis said.
Wilson added that the games signify the beginning of "something more" to her, where she can learn lessons that she hopes will take her even further.
"I never really thought I could get this far in something," she said. "I know I'm one of the few kids that will go, and just being able to say when I'm older, 'yeah, I witnessed that,' like basically being able to tell kids that if you put your mind to something you can do it."