James Turner knew the transition from junior to senior competition in national men’s decathlon would be a considerable adjustment.
Still, it wasn’t enough to keep the 19-year-old multi-skilled athlete off the podium at his first Canadian senior track and field championships.
Turner, a former two-time Canadian junior champion, grabbed the bronze medal in men’s decathlon at the nationals last weekend in Moncton, N.B.
“It’s a significant result for me, for sure,” said Turner, who will be heading into his second year at the University of Toronto this fall. “I went in without any real expectations, I was fighting a couple of injuries, and my first year as a senior is a lot tougher, so I just wanted to go in a do as well as I could. I’m happy with the way it turned out.”
Turner and his peers battled windy conditions during the 10-event competition last Friday and Saturday in Moncton.
Turner’s best result came in the 400 metres where he placed second only to gold medalist and 2012 Olympian, Damian Warner of London, Ont. Turner posted third-place efforts in the 1,500, high jump and long jump, he took fourth in the javelin, pole vault and 100 metres, fifth in the discus, and was sixth in both the shot put and 110 metre hurdles.
Even after the ninth event, the javelin, Turner wasn’t exactly sure where he stood and went into the 1,500 simply hoping to run a good race.
In the end, he finished with 7,141 points, just 109 back of the silver medalist, Ottawa’s Patrick Arbour.
“I didn’t know I was actually that close and had a chance to be second,” said Turner. “If I would have known, I probably would have run harder. I just wanted to make sure I finished ahead of (fourth overall finisher) Mark (Chenery). I can’t complain.”
In addition to earning his first senior medal, another reward for Turner was the experience gained by competing alongside Canada’s top decathlete, Damian Warner, a three-time national champion who was fifth at the last Summer Olympic Games in London.
“It was exciting to be competing with (Damian),” Turner said. “He really helped me a lot, talked to me about little tricks in certain events, things I could do to improve. It was a great experience.”
Okanagan Athletics Club head coach Pat Sima-Ledding, who has been working with Turner the last several seasons, was duly impressed by the 19-year-old’s performance at nationals.
“The fact that he’s 19 and in his first year as a senior, it’s incredible what he accomplished,” said Sima-Ledding. “James has been working very hard, he’s cleaned up those events that were weaker for him and he’s become more well-rounded decathlete. He’s a natural athlete who’s potential is endless. This is only just the beginning for him.”
The next major event for Turner is the Canada Summer Games in mid-August in Sherbrooke, Que.
Following that event, Turner will return to the University of Toronto where he’ll be joined on the Blues track team by his younger brother, Rostam.