Sports

Kelowna track athletes bring home national medals

Aaron Stroda (left) and Keely Watts-Watling (right) along with coach Verena Stroda. The two athletes won medals at the Canadian Track and Field Championships. - Contributed
Aaron Stroda (left) and Keely Watts-Watling (right) along with coach Verena Stroda. The two athletes won medals at the Canadian Track and Field Championships.
— image credit: Contributed

A pair of Kelowna track and field athletes arrived back in the Okanagan on Wednesday sporting gold medals as two of the top midget level track athletes in the country.

Keely Watts-Watling and Aaron Stroda brought home five medals combined from  the Canadian National Midget and Youth Track and Field Championships in Ottawa last weekend.

Stroda, a 15 year old OKM student was the top performer for the BC/Yukon Team that consisted of 40 athletes. He won the javelin and discus events and added a silver medal each in the shot put and with the 4x100m boys relay.

“I was happy with my performances in Ottawa," said Stroda, who holds the national midget record in discus. "It was my first trip with the B.C. team and we had a good time – on and off the track."

For Watts-Watling, her victory in the pentathlon event was extra sweet. The 15-year-old Okanagan Athletics Club member wasn't named to Team B.C. to go to the event but opted to attend as an unaffiliated participant. She then proceeded to win the girls pentathlon.

"It was a really good feeling just because I didn't get picked for Team BC," she said. "It felt better to win because I went unattached."

Both Stroda and Watts-Watling are members of the Okanagan Athletics Club and are coached by Verena Stroda, herself a former national multi-event athlete.

Verena said winning the Canadian midget championships is as good as it gets for 15-year-old athletes in Canada.

"This is the highest accomplishment they can reach at their age," said Stroda. "They cannot compete internationally at their age so this is a huge accomplishment for both athletes."

The victory concluded Watts-Watling's competitive track season on a high note as she now gets set to move to Kelowna Secondary School to pursue multiple sports like cross country, volleyball and basketball.

"Keely had an almost perfect competition at nationals," said Verena. She was fully determined to give her best in each of the five disciplines (hurdles, long jump, high jump, shot put and 800m). She is a pleasure to train with and has lots of potential for the years to come."

As for Aaron Stroda he is off this weekend to continue training and competing and will get the chance to practice with a former Olympic champion in discus.

Stroda will throw with 1976 Olympic champion Mac Wilkins this weekend before taking part in a throwers competition on Saturday.

“This is going to be very special to meet and train with Mac. It’s like playing hockey with Wayne Gretzky, or golf with Tiger Woods," said Aaron.

Meanwhile...

Kelowna sprinter Keefer Joyce ran to a pair of second place medals at the Canadian National Youth Track and Field Championships in Ottawa last weekend

Joyce helped Team B.C. relay teams to a pair of second place results, winning silver in the 4x100m as well as in the 4x400m relay.

He also ran well in his individual events, winning a bronze medal in the 100m sprint and putting up a new personal best in the 200m race, finishing just out of the medals in fourth place.

Joyce also met with the national team and some of the coaches while in Ottawa at the meet and is now focusing his training on the Youth Commonwealth Games coming up in September.

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