Parksville athlete Juliette Desvaux has had to delay joining the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds track and field team, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I made the decision to live at home for term one,” said Desvaux, a former standout at Ballenas Secondary recruited by the T-Birds last year.
And although she’s far away from the team, Desvaux remains committed to improve her skills and to be in peak physical condition.
Fortunately for Desvaux, a local gym, Iron Warehouse in Parksville, has provided her a place to train. She also got assistance from her former high school coaches Kim and Randy Longmuirs of Mid Island Distance running club.
Desvaux said she’s so grateful to have people in the community willing to assist her in her athletic endeavours.
“I want to say a huge thank you to Iron Warehouse for sponsoring me the past two years,” said Desvaux. “Their sponsorship has enabled me access to their local 24-hour gym. Owner Meaghan Orcutt along with her husband has been so supportive of my athletics career, starting from when I was just getting serious at 16 years old. Strength training is a crucial part of my training. At least two out of my six training days a week are spent in the gym.”
Desvaux, a sprinter specializing in the 100-metre and 200-metre distances, stressed the importance of building strength.
“A lot of speed comes from power and drive,” said Desvaux. “I’ve always noticed how much my gym work translates into improvements in my track workouts, which leads to better performances. I am able to execute UBC’s strength program with all the righ equipment and weights. Strength workouts in my bedroom with only my few dumbells definitely woudn’t be as effective.”
Training on you own requires dedication, discipline and motivation. Desvaux said it’s more challenging but she has two former mentors she could rely on to see her training through.
“I am making it work,” said Desvaux. “My UBC coach has been sending my workouts. I’m so thankful to still have my local coaches Kim and Randy Longmuir helping me follow my program. They have been so fantastic to still come out and lead me through the UBC workouts. Having a coach there makes such a difference.”
Desvaux wants to keep training despite the uncertainty hanging over the track and field season next year in the spring due to the pandemic.
“Whether that will happen or not, I don’t know,” said Desvaux. “Regardless, COVID is a great test of determination and perseverance for athletes. Training through the pandemic will make us all come out mentally stronger, with reinforced love for our sport.”
It would have been a big boost to Desvaux’s training if Parksville Qualicum Beach had a decent track to train on.
She’s a staunch supporter of the Ballenas track upgrade initiative. She is involved with the Oceanside Track Renewal Steering Committee as the student representative.
“I feel very passionately about this project,” said Desvaux. “Having a real, safe track in the community would be so beneficial for everyone, not just the athletes. Personally, it would be a dream to see this project succeed. I have spent hundreds of hours on the Ballenas track and it is in appalling condition. It’s not feasible for me to travel to Nanaimo and Port Alberni most weeks, so I am having to do my training on fields and trails. This is greatly disadvantaging my workouts.”
Desvaux was disappointed with the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Oceanside Services Committee for not supporting it. She was critical of Parksville mayor Ed Mayne who voted against the Ballenas project and stated, “my vote would be that we terminate this discussion, put this out of its misery.”
“I want him to know that running on that track is an absolute misery,” said Desvaux. “I am so grateful that the project is continuing to push forward despite lack of support from the RDN. I know that with hard work and support from the local community we can make this incredible goal happen.”