Kelowna's John Gay will compete for Canada in the 3k steeplechase at the PanAm Junior Athletics Championships this summer in Edmonton.

Kelowna’s Gay qualifies for junior Pan Ams

18-year-old athlete qualifies in steeplechase after winning silver at junior nationals

John Gay has long wanted the opportunity to represent his country in international competition.

The 18-year-old runner from Kelowna will get that chance this summer in Edmonton.

Thanks to his performance at the recent Canadian junior track and field championships, Gay will be a member of Team Canada at the Pan American Junior Athletics Championships, July 31 to Aug. 2 in the Alberta capital.

Gay booked a spot at Pan Ams after winning the silver medal in the 3000 metre steeplechase last weekend at the juniors nationals in Edmonton.

Gay, who is a member of the UBC Thunderbirds track and field team, finished just 35/100 of a second behind Manitoba’s Caleb De Jong.

“Finishing second and making my first national team was such an incredible feeling and one that is yet to fully sink in,” said Gay, an OKM grad and member of the Okanagan Athletics Club. “It comes as the fruit of a lot of months of consistent training and a varsity cross country and track season at UBC that, despite its ups and downs, really helped me to grow as an athlete.

“The opportunity to represent my country on an international stage has been something I have been striving for a long time and to finally reach this point is an incredible privilege.”

With a silver medal and long awaited spot on the national team in his possession, Gay wasn’t quite done at nationals.

On the final day of the Canadian championships, Gay earned a bronze medal in the 5000 metres (5k), finishing in a time of 14:56.43.

Finishing on the podium again was a big surprise and an wonderful conclusion to the weekend,” said Gay. “It was great confirmation personally that I deserved to be making the national team, and I couldn’t be more excited to be heading back to Edmonton at the end of the month.”