World junior track ends with athletes' praise

The IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships wrap up in Moncton, N.B., with athletes singing the city's praises and organizers eyeing future events.

Athletes had varying levels of success at the IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships, but they all seem to agree that Moncton, N.B., deserves a gold medal.

France's Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, who won gold in the men's 110-metre hurdles, said he's already dreaming of the London Olympics in 2012. But when he looks back, he'll think of Moncton, where the week-long event ended Sunday.

"I will have two memories because the stadium is beautiful, the people are beautiful, big thank you for everything," he said.

Vladimir Vukicevic of Norway won silver in the same event, but his memories of the country will be similarly golden.

"I was talking about Canada with my dad yesterday and he said, 'I personally think it is one of the greatest countries I've been to. The people are so nice … I love it,'" he said.

Local organizing committee president Larry Nelson thanked the approximately 3,000 volunteers during the closing ceremonies Sunday, "because it takes a small army to pull off an event of this magnitude."

New Brunswick's Child and Youth Advocate Bernard Richard was a guest during the ceremonies. Richard hopes the games will have a lasting impact on youth.

"Great to see these young athletes and all the energy they bring," he said. "They inspire us and I'm sure they inspire young New Brunswickers, young Canadians."  

This was the largest sporting event ever held in Atlantic Canada and organizers now have their sights on the many other events they know Moncton can host. The new $23-million-dollar Moncton stadium will be one of the lasting legacies of the games.

Some key dates are already set. The stadium will host a CFL game in the fall, and Moncton will also host the 2013 and 2014 Canadian Track and Field Championships.