In 2016, it seemed the sky was the limit for Rostam Turner.
The 21-year-old decathlete from Kelowna capped off a breakthrough season with a gold medal performance earlier this month at the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) track and field championships in El Savador.
With 7,601 points over 10 events, Turner set both a NACAC record and a personal best.
“It was really good, my biggest win for sure,” said Turner. “It was my first big international meet in another country and it was a great experience travelling with the Canadian team. I think this will help me in the long run.”
Turner competed in three decathlons this year and improved on his PB each time.
In May, at a meet in Chula Vista, CA, he racked up seven personal bests in 10 events to finish with 7,466 points.
Three weeks later, representing Team Canada at the Pan American Cup in Ottawa, the fourth-ranked Turner unexpectedly won Canada’s national title and added a Pan Am silver with another new best score of 7,565 points.
Then Turner raised the bar yet another notch in El Salvador, winning gold and breaking the record previously held by his older brother and former Canadian champion, James Turner.
When all was said and done, Turner’s exploits in 2016 far exceeded both his and coach Pat Sima-Ledding’s expectations.
“It was absolutely a breakthrough year for him, he represented Canada twice and medaled both times,” said Sima-Ledding, the head coach of the Okanagan Athletics Club. “Improving every time he set foot on the track, Rostam’s dedication to excellence certainly paid off. He exceeded our expectations, what he’s done is quite incredible.”
Turner credited much of his success this year to the training program and schedule laid out for him by Sima-Ledding.
In short, Sima-Ledding said it was a case of quality over quantity.
“Shifting the focus from the volume of work to the quality of work was very important for him,” said Sima-Ledding. “There was more of a technical emphasis this year, just bringing it all back to the foundation. I think that really was a benefit to Rostam.”
Turner also gave a nod to both Kelowna physiotherapist Roy Gillespie and massage therapist Rory Switzer who helped him “recover from workouts, as well as keep me out of injury trouble.”
Based on the success of his recently completed season, Sima-Ledding said Turner will look to take his game to another level in 2017.
“The outcome this year was more than we expected,” she said. “Moving forward, we’ll be looking at international meets and getting him competing more on the world stage.”
This fall, Turner will return to the University of Toronto for his fourth season of CIS competition with the Blues track and field team.
Turner is enrolled in the kinesiology program at the U of T.