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Spectacular track season for Bains, Smiley
Coach John May of Black Creek is a foremost authority in track and field who's been working closely with valley track stars Chicago Bains and Taryn Smiley this season.
"Following the girls qualifying for the B.C. team at the provincials, getting prepared for the national meet was very challenging indeed,'' he indicated. "For Chicago this was her second trip to this meet, and experience gained prepping her for last year was utilized and added to for this year. For Taryn, this being her first year it was indeed a whole new frontier, with much to be learned and utilized in her following years''
Here's May's assessment on what transpired:
CHICAGO - "Golden Summer"
Heading into this meet following Provincials, and the record setting run in 80 hurdles there, a burden had been added that is of immense magnitude in any sport, this one especially for an athlete so young. Chicago was undefeated in both the 80 hurdle race and 200 hurdle race - something that alone is enough pressure, let alone heading into the national meet where you are ranked No. 1 in both events.
Even the most experienced athlete sometimes struggles with this in one event, let alone two. Also added to all this is the fact that each and every hurdler out there knows that the difference between record-setting runs and total disaster can be a few millimetres as striking a hurdle when running at full speed can end the race in the blink of an eye with you laying on the track wondering what happened? Add to this the worry a young person has with this knowledge and not wanting to "let down" all the family, friends, and coach watching her and you can understand that it does weigh very heavy on them even if they don't say so. Then add in a track facility noted for having swirling and strange winds at times, that can vary from heat to heat during the same events heats, and it creates a scenario even a seasoned athlete dreads to think about. Maintaining focus on this highly-technical event is the only thing an athlete can take with them against all of this pressure. This Chicago did with a "Professional Like" quality, and is amazing to see in such a young athlete.
Day 1 was the 80m hurdle heat and final, and a run as the lead off runner on the U16 Team BC 4X100 relay team. Her qualifying heat was won with a very solid performance of 11.72, very early the first morning. Following that heat, a brief slip in the bleachers resulted in a nasty fall against the edge of the bleacher with the area beneath one of her knee caps, and it quickly swelled and was treated with icing quickly after. With the final only a couple of hours away I was concerned, but had to not show my concern and remain positive. Both myself and my assistant coach then got there ready to go for the final.
The looming question was would this knee injury affect her run at the 32-year-old record of 11.60 now? It was also apparent that it was going to be run into a very strong headwind. True to form when the gun went, Chicago's A game switched on, and a flawless run into a brisk -1.3m/sec headwind could not stop her from smashing the record with an 11.48 second run and national championship No. 1 - record No. 1.
Next up, a couple of hours later, Chicago ran the lead-off leg of the U16 Team BC 4x100 relay. When the gun went, she ran away from the entire field of runners in that heat and passed off a lead of insurmountable magnitude to the second runner. All that was needed was for the rest of the team to make their passes and finish the race which they did, surpassing the previous record by almost one second. National Championship No. 2, record No. 2.
I was concerned all night with the knee injury that had occurred, and if that was not enough, at about 9 p.m. Chicago got stung by a wasp on the arch of one her feet, yet even more pressure and drama added to everything else that was already going on.
DAY 2- In the morning a look at the swelling on the knee had me concerned, and coupled with the sore foot it was apparent when warming up for the 200 hurdle heat, both were affecting the way she ran. Again not wanting to say anything negative and keeping a positive approach and focus on everything, we were able to keep her focused on the task at hand. Now the pressure of "undefeated" was really heating up as well. to go undefeated in two events for an entire season is to say the least "Monumental". And there were some nasty swirling type winds now, a distance hurdler's nightmare to say the least. In the heat, it was apparent that the wind, the pressure of everything, and the nagging injury had taken its toll. She did pull through with the win in her heat to automatically qualify, keeping the undefeated string going, but it was her slowest run this season and she was feeling pretty low. My assistant, having a lot of experience with this type of stuff, having worked with world class athletes in this sport, quickly took Chicago aside and got her refocused and ready to run the final, like the "champion" she is. He is an amazing individual, at this very thing, and it was needed.
When the gun went in the final, it was immediately apparent to me that the way she left the starting blocks she was going to win, not in a record time but certainly one that said "I am the National Champion"...and indeed she did win, rebounding with a 200m hurdle run of 27.91 seconds, and National Championship No. 3.
On the Monday night following competition, Chicago was awarded with "The Outstanding Female B.C. Team Member " award at a Team B.C. meeting. To be the member of such an outstanding bunch of young athletes aged 15, 16, 17, and win as a 15-year-old, even with a team of athletes some of whom actually competed for Canada at a World Youth Competition this year in early July, is to say the least, "proof" of the magnitude of her performances at the meet. A short while after this meeting, she was also awarded the Legion award for Most Outstanding Female Athlete of the whole National Championship meet.
This was to say the least a "shock" even to me. This meet was filled with many athletes who had represented Canada at the IAAF World Championships, and Chicago was selected for this award.
I cannot adequately put into words how I feel about this. It has been a pressure-filled season even for me as her coach. The day-to-day pressure and overcoming every single obstacle put in her way to attain this is what makes her more than just "Great". I am humbled by her ability, and honoured to be her coach.
Day 1 ...The first day started with Taryn planning to run a 100m heat and then a while later a 100m final hopefully. There were some extremely fast girls coming into this meet, and Taryn was seeded sixth in the U18 division.
When the gun went someone had false started and the runners were called back, and the runner was eliminated. Following that process, the runners were restarted and Taryn had what I felt was her best run ever, and easily won her heat. My hand time would have indicated a run under 12.20 as quite likely. While we were waiting for her time to show up on the clock, suddenly it became apparent there was a problem with the timing, and a flurry of activity by officials and an announcement that this heat would need to be rerun, in approximately one hour, as the two timing systems had both gone down simultaneously. No amount of arguing or protesting could change it, so it was immediately an effort to get her ready to go yet again in an hour. This would mean that any athlete from this heat would have to run three times in three hours, a difficult task for even seasoned athletes.
At the rerun, Taryn again ran a great race, and won her heat to advance to the final, but the toll of a restart and then run in the heat, and then this rerun obviously impacted her run, and a solid 12.42 run in the rerun.
In the warmup for the final, it was obvious she was having issues with hamstring tightness, and despite it all, she was in a positive state of mind, and tried her best to focus on what she needed to do, not what had happened.
In the final, she somehow mustered up a great start, something that is becoming her strong point and one which is difficult for someone with so little experience. She was with the eventual winners until halfway in the race when it became apparent her nervous system was slowing down, and she dropped back, finishing seventh, with still a surprising 12.48. This was her PB time when we went to provincials, where she ran 12.23 so at the end of this whole fiasco, I was indeed Proud and pleased of this. She performed the best she could given some extreme obstacles to do so, and still had to run the anchor leg of the B.C. Team 4x100.
She ran an awesome anchor leg, passing one runner in the run and thereby moving them into the bronze medal position.
DAY 2- Taryn had no events on Day 2, which was good as the four 100m runs the day before had taken its toll on her legs. She received treatment and rested for Day 3 and the 200 and 4x400.
Day 3 -The legs were very tight. In warmup, it was apparent that what Taryn had to do on Day 1 had taken its toll on her. In her heat, she finished third with 26.23. I was concerned she had not made the A final, but when times were posted she had indeed qualified for the A final with the eighth fastest time. And the wind was causing havoc even during a heat, swirling in multiple directions, impacting some runners more than others.
When it came time to run the final, Taryn showed what she really is about. She kept a strong positive attitude, she did not dwell on her fatigue or the legs being tight, went through the motions and warmup like a seasoned "Pro".
In the final, she ran 26.05 into a negative 2.1 headwind and finished sixth, two positions better than her heat seed time. I was indeed very proud of her on this fact, and now she also had to run on the B.C. Team 4x400 relay at the end of the meet.
She was the lead-off runner for the team, and true to form Taryn attacked this run like no other. She got out fast, and kept it going, somehow managed to dig deep and run a split time under a minute for her first time ever. Initially they had finished fourth. However,following a disqualification, they moved to the bronze medal position again, and produced Taryn's second bronze medal of the championships. Above all, her attitude came through when she said to me, "I can't wait til next year.''