James Turner golden in national men's decathlon
One of the country's top decathletes for two years at the junior level, James Turner is now proving he belongs with the big boys.
The 20-year-old from Kelowna laid claim to his first Canadian senior decathlon title last week at the national championships in Ottawa.
The meet doubled as the Pan Am Combined Events Cup, where Turner placed third overall against athletes from nations such the U.S., Cuba and the Dominican.
Turner's 10-event score of 7,408 points was 23 better than Canadian rival Pat Arbour of Ottawa, while No. 1 ranked Damian Warner didn't compete in the decathlon.
Still, Turner was thrilled to secure his first national senior men's championship.
"It means a lot to win this," said Turner, who turns 21 on Aug. 4. "Since I was young, it's always been a goal of mine to get this, I've been working toward it for a long time. Those junior titles were fun, now I'm glad I've taken the next step."
Based on the opening day of competition in Ottawa, it didn't look like Turner was necessarily destined for the top of the podium.
Turner earned a decathlon PB in the 100 metres, then finished the day off as the top Canadian in the 400 metre event in 49.65. However, less than spectacular efforts in long jump, shot put and high jump left Turner in arrears of Arbour.
"It was a mediocre day, I knew I had to be better the second day," he said.
Turner did just that by opening up Day 2 with PB in the 100 metre hurdles (14.96), then adding a PB in the discus (41.68).
"I was feeling good in both events, I built up some momentum and carried it from there."
Following the pole vault and javelin, Turner sat in second place among Canadians and fourth overall. He then capped off the day with a solid effort in the 1,500 (4:25.9) to carry him to national gold and a third-place effort overall.
"I needed a good 1500 and got it," he added.
His performance in Ottawa qualifies Turner for the NACAC U23 Championships, an international competition Aug. 8 to 10 in Kamloops.
The win, though, was bittersweet for Turner, whose younger brother, Rostam, couldn't complete the national championships in Ottawa due to injury.
"He had a rough go of it," said Turner. "I feel bad for him, but hopefully he'll bounce back soon."
Not only are the Turners training partners, but James and Rostam are teammates with the University of Toronto Blues track team.
James will soon be entering his third year at the U of T, while Rostam is returning for his second season with the Blues.