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Sep 18 2017 - Athlete Bio : Elizabeth MacDonald On Being A Veteran Competitor

Elizabeth MacDonald has been a pillar of New Brunswick’s track and field community. This summer, she once again represented New Brunswick at the World Francophone Games.

 

While she wants to keep her age a non-topic, Elizabeth’s athletics days began in 2002. At the time, she worked at a swimming pool, and her friend half-jokingly convinced her to try field events. “I think I might have known what javelin was,” she says. “Pretty sure I knew what shot was. I didn’t really have too many expectations for the sport. It felt very random.”

 

At the Legion Championships, the classic introduction to track, Elizabeth fell in love with the hammer throw. At a clinic, she watched a woman wind up and launch, and something about the movement, the fluid precision, resonated with her. Or, rather, the sight clicked her brain into gear. “I immediately thought, ‘that looks so cool!” she says. “I had to learn how to throw an implement just like that.” And, ever since her first few attempts of accelerating the hammer, her passion has never waned.

 

Throughout her Bachelors of Science, her PhD in Chemistry, and even her Diploma in Dental Hygiene, Elizabeth has now represented New Brunswick eight times. Those teams include the 2009 and 2013 Canada Summer Games, as well as the 2013 World Francophone Games, in Nice.

 

“After all this time, I still have fun launching this ball in the air and watching it fly. If I didn’t enjoy it, I definitely wouldn’t have kept going, with training and competing, for as long as I have. I love the challenge, the constant growth, and everything about this sport.”

 

“Throughout my career, I’ve kind learned that each competition, each games, will be a unique experience. So, despite having competed at this championship, there were new challenges and new positives, which impacted my performance.”

 

For instance, at the Abidjan competition venue the cement quality of the throwing circle was different than what she has been used to in North America. As well, this particular competitive format only allowed for a few warmup throws, whereas Atlantic Canadian competition allots for an open 45 minutes.

 

“The more you compete, the more time you spend in sport, the easier of a time you have in dealing with the changes that come up,” she says. “I am lucky to have spent the amount of time that I have in this sport, but I noticed a difference between even myself and the full-time athletes, such as those who competed on team Canada.”

 

“I used to get shaky, or tentative, when trying to throw,” she says. “When I was younger, especially around my first time competing at Canada Games, I’d always have these crazy emotions throughout competition. I would let something that bothered me, often things I couldn’t control, get into my head.”

 

“Eventually, I came to a realization. Yes, we all have stressors in our lives, but competition is our time away from that. It’s a chance to do what we love, and when you step into the circle, you let go everything else.”

 

Elizabeth laughs. “Since that realization, I never had an issue with performing. Challenges never go away; instead, growing in competition is about getting better at dealing with the challenges when the inevitably arise.” 

 

In Abidjan, Elizabeth demonstrated just that. “The first throw I knew wasn’t going to be good even in the opening spins. I could feel in the second turn that it wasn’t going correct, based on how it should feel when thrown properly. It wasn’t in a proper rhythm, but I competed the throw, and it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.”

 

“I could have shut down based on that less-than-optimal opening performance, and I could have let my mind jeopardize the rest of the competition. But that wasn’t why I was there. Instead, I focused on what was coming up next.”

 

During the first three rounds of throws, Elizabeth stayed calm, cool, and collected. Despite feeling off her rhythm, she qualified for the final, and, as the competition continued, her distances improved. “I'm pleased to say I threw a much better mark in my final throw of the competition. I finished 8th overall, which was one of my goals for Abidjan.”

 

“In terms of my own technique, this was the most difficult meet I had all season,” she says. “I felt great in the pre-comp the night before, and I felt ready on the day. My nervous system was firing on all cylinders, and I should have been ready to go. But, sometimes, things just don’t quite click on the day. Despite all the training, the mental tricks, and the experience, there is still something we can’t always control. It’s one of the mysteries of sport, and something that has kept me hooked.”

 

Overall, Elizabeth speaks highly of her experience on the Ivory Coast with Team NB.

 

“West African people were very passionate about sport and art competition,” she says. This passion showed at all the competition venues. Locaos were excited about the games and during the competition the locals could be seen, and even heard, cheering the loudest. And, my teammates were all positive and supportive, and we had just a ball.”

 

After the games, she speaks of the nuances of visiting Africa, and of being a senior member of the team. “I’m very grateful to have gone,” she says. To see the place, to know the people, and to watch that ball fly.


Sep 13 2017 - New Brunswick Youth Cross Country Series

Athletics New Brunswick is excited to announce the creation of the New Brunswick Youth Cross Country Series. This series is modeled after the indoor and outdoor Run Jump Throw Wheel Series but will focus solely on cross country events for elementary and middle school level athletes.

New Brunswick will play host to two championship events for the series, including Provincials and Atlantics.

Athletes can qualify for the Provincials by finishing in the top 10 at their school meet or another cross country meet in their area.  

A full listing of events can be found here: http://anb.ca/Calendar/index.php

The first qualifying event will take place this Saturday, September 16, at Odell Park in Fredericton. The UNB/STU Invitational will feature a Junior VRed race at 10:00am.

The following week will feature events inSt. Stephen (Sept 18) Saint John (Sept 19th), and Dieppe (Sept 23).  Other communities currently hosting events include Campobello (Sept 25th), St. Stephen (Sept 25th), Hampton (Sept 27th), Moncton (Sept 30th).

October will have events in St. Stephen (Oct 1th), Saint John (Oct 4th), McAdam (Oct 4th), Cocagne (Oct 7th), 

After reaching Provincials, athletes will then compete in Fredericton for a chance to represent Team New Brunswick at the Atlantic Cross Country Championships on November 4th in Saint John by placing in the top 15.

Events for Provincials will include:

·         500m (Ages1-5)

·         1km (Ages 6-9)

·         1.5km (Ages 10-11)

·         2km (Ages 12-13)

·         3km (Ages 14-15)

Provincials will take place in Fredericton at Odell Park on October 15, 2017. Registration can be done by visiting www.anb.ca, checking the calendar and clicking “Youth XC Series Provincial Championships”.

Please note that the registration deadline is October 12, 2017.

Anyone interested in hosting a qualifying event may do so and ANB will provide support in the form of qualifying certificates, ribbons, medals, advertising and registration.

“We are really excited to be able to offer yet another opportunity for younger athletes to participate in cross country with the implementation of this series” said Gabriel LeBlanc, Executive Director of Athletics New Brunswick “The school cross country season is relatively short due to the weather in our province, but with these new competition events we hope to see more participation and excitement built around cross country events” added LeBlanc.

For more information please contact Alex Holder at alex.holder@anb.ca


Aug 30 2017 - Athlete Profile: Naomie Maltais: On Harnessing Focus

Naomie Maltais is as focused as they come. As a medical student who just returned from the World Francophone Games, she balances her full-time studies with training for high-level hammer throwing. And the key to doing it all, she says, lies in the mindset. 

 

Despite qualifying for this year’s World Francophone Games team, Naomie didn’t seriously train for track until university. In high school, she kept herself busy playing everything from hockey, to soccer, to volleyball. Though she was interested in the individual sport of athletics, the rural area where she grew up, Val d’Amour, didn’t have the facilities.

 

To make up for this, her parents bought her a discus and a hammer. In grade ten, she practiced launching them on the lawn outside her house.

 

Unhampered by her lack of training, she qualified to represent New Brunswick at the 2013 Canada Summer Games, just a few years into the sport. “There was no club, no coach, and no one to train me when I was younger,” she says. Finally, when she attended the University of Moncton, the knowledgeable coaching staff made her a training program, and she could focus on getting better at the hammer throw.

 

“It was amazing going from no coach to having a program,” Naomie says. “Though I was not used to training every day, I was used to doing sports every day.” Her previous experience in sports had taught her to work hard; however, the steep demands of competition took some adjusting.

 

In athletics, field events are funny beasts. They’re unlike running events, where athletes have a single effort to manage. Instead, field athletes must throw or jump their first of three to six attempts, and, before they can go again, they must wait for the rest of the field to compete.

 

This kind of competitive format leaves more than enough room for distractions. As a result, one of the most important parts to being a strong athlete is learning to manage energy and focus. Whether from it’s from nerves or self-doubt, field events athletes have plenty of time to get stuck in their head.

 

While she has always been able to buckle down and work towards long-term goals – medical school case and point -- for her first few years as a competitive hammer thrower, Naomie struggled with this new kind of focus. “I would get stressed out when I watched other athletes compete,” she says. “I’d end up thinking too much, and would throw into the net.”

 

“I had to learn to keep the focus on myself, to beat myself instead.”

 

“Throwing taught me how to clear my head. Right after the throw you have to think about what you just did, to process it. Now, I do that for a few minutes. Then, I let it go. I think about the next throw, and I don’t think about everything going on around me.” Naomie has a few key words, and a few routines, to help with this process.

 

The mental challenges of sport, though, didn’t end there. In the summer of 2016 she threw the qualification standard, but the team only offered a certain amount of seats. Team Canada-Nouveau Brunswick would be decided by a ranking system, where all athletes would be considered based off their performance’s percentage away from the given standard. Long story short, Naomie knew that even though she had achieved standard, she might not be selected for the team.

 

To make matters worse, most athletes had until April to qualify. Hammer, on the other hand, is only an outdoor, summertime sport; to qualify for the 2017 team, she would depend on her best distance from the previous year.

 

From August to April, Naomie regularly checked the results, knowing there was nothing she could do to change her predicament. If someone came out of left field, she could lose her place on the team. “I had to learn to not think about that, too,” she says. “I had done my best and couldn’t do any more.”

 

“It was been a huge sacrifice to get here,” she says. “I do school and training and not much else.”

 

In the end, her throw was enough to punch her ticket to the games. Once in Abidjan , when she stood up to compete against some of the best in the world, her mantra stayed the same. “At the games, I enjoyed the experience. The new place, all the people. But when it came time to compete, I focused only on my throws, about what I’m about to do, one part at a time.” Naomie finished tenth at the games, with a throw of 42.56m.

2017-09-18 - Athlete Bio : Elizabeth MacDonald On Being A Veteran Competitor
2017-09-13 - New Brunswick Youth Cross Country Series
2017-08-30 - Athlete Profile: Naomie Maltais: On Harnessing Focus
2017-08-28 - MacPherson makes top 10
2017-08-27 - Athlete Bio : Alex Witmer: On Wanderlust, Echochambers, and Comebacks

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