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Jul 21 2017 - JDLF Athlete Profile: Jon Gionet On The People that Believe in You

Words by Grace Annear

At the 2017 Atlantic University Sport Championship, shot putter Jonathan Gionet donned UNB’s red singlet and stepped into the throwing circle for his final throw. The crowd was silent, and he zoned in on a state of focus. He wound up, and launched the shot. With a thud it landed at 16.76 meters.

 

The throw was not only a new lifetime best, but it also broke the AUS record and it ranked Jon fourth for the upcoming national university championships. A month before, a lesser throw qualified him for this summer’s World Francophone Games, his first international championship. This weight man is on a roll.

 

Now that he’s New Brunswick’s best-ever shot putter, it’s hard to believe that Jon first made a provincial team by accident. He attributes his success to his connections across the province – to the people who inspired him, and to the people who believed in him.

 

In grade eleven, Jon dabbled in athletics, tossing the javelin. The following year, he set his sights on Canada Games. Since his hero, Caleb Jones, dominated the javelin scene, Jon turned to different throwing events. He made the team in shot put, and after the games, assumed he’d reached the peak of his athletic success.

 

In the beginning of his undergraduate degree at Saint Thomas University, he prioritized his education and didn’t pursue athletics. Pretty quickly, though, running coach Alex Coffin reached out to the raw talent. “Alex did a lot for me,” Jon says. “He encouraged me to compete, and helped me connect with training resources I needed for my event.”

 

As the only STU thrower, Jon began to practice alongside the UNB athletes and train under Mark Sheehan. Over the years he threw further and further, and once the winter university season ended, he began to attend Athletics New Brunswick’s spring training camps in Florida.

 

“The first time I attended the camp, it was actually a mistake, which is kinda funny.” Steve Leblanc, ANB’s high performance coach, made a calculation error with qualification standards. “They didn’t realize until after I’d been invited that my throw wasn’t far enough.” Jon chuckles. “I’m so glad that happened though. I don’t know if I would have kept going if I hadn’t gone and been so inspired by the team.” 

 

“I started to think that, maybe if I took it seriously, I could be good. Over the years that feeling grew stronger, and I started to get more and more invested.”

 

Jon changed his diet, cutting out fast foods and prioritizing whole foods like chicken and rice. “I’m a bigger guy, and I need a lot of calories. Now I make sure I get good calories – not from McDonalds like before.” He followed his gym plans, and stopped skipping a practices.

 

“None of this would have happened without people’s encouragement,” Jon says. “I wouldn’t have known what I was capable of, and wouldn’t have known how to get to where I am without my community.”

 

In his fourth year of university competition, Jon hit a plateau, and it to switch things up. “I’d worked with Mark for four years, and it was awesome. I just needed a change, though, and approached Yvan Pelltier of Fredericton Legion.”

 

“Yvan puts a lot of hours into my workouts and plans and, even though it’s my job to do it, without his help I wouldn’t be here. He goes above and beyond -- if I need sometime to talk to, someone to vent to, he’s always there. He’s become like a second dad to me.”

 

Back in Jon’s grade twelve year, representing his province at the World Francophone Games seemed as far away as the moon. “It wasn’t really even on my radar because the standards were so far off of what I could throw then.” It’s kinda funny, then, that since 2013 the standards only grew more difficult. “When the 2017 standards came out, I thought it was impossible. But with all the help and encouragement I had a breakthrough and achieved it.”

 

“What I love most about athletics is the sense of community. It’s never gone away. If I go for track meet, I’ll always know someone, and everyone always supports one another.”

 

“Since growing up, Caleb Jones has been a huge motivational factor,” Jon says of the now retired NB record holder, multiple-time Canadian medalist, and Canadian team member. “Now we’re good friends. He taught me a lot about competing over the years, and this winter, he phoned me after CIS championship. I hadn’t finished as high as I’d hoped, and he knew exactly what to say.”

 

“Don’t tell him that though – it’ll go to his head.”

 

In April, Jon attended a two-week, warm-weather training camp in California. After competing in the sunshine state, he returned to train in New Brunswick. Lately, the wet conditions of NB’s outdoor fields have prevented early competitions, but Jon hopes to tour in Ontario and Quebec before competing at the Canadian National Championships in July. After that, he’ll depart for the Ivory Coast, and don the Canada-Nouveau Brunswick singlet, and compete at the World Francophone Games.

 

“It’s funny to look back and wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t met these people,” he says. “I love the people, and now athletics is a huge passion.”


Jul 17 2017 - Jeux de la Francophonie Canadienne Moncton-Dieppe

As the Jeux de la Francophonie Canadienne ended last Saturday in Moncton, the New Brunswick's team once again managed to collect a large number of medals. In all, the 20 athletes in the province managed to win 37 medals, finishing at the top of the ranking and winning the athletics banner. "The athletes of the province have once again surpassed themselves," said Gabriel LeBlanc, executive director of Athletics New Brunswick. "We had a team with a lot of talent and potential, and the athletes were able to perform beyond our highest expectations." To add to these beautiful words, 3 athletes proudly shattered 4 records of the Jeux de la Francophonie Canadienne, here in there province.

Here are the full results of the New Brunswick team (C = Cadet, Y = Youth):

Gold medal:

800m C Emily Doucet 2: 21.97 (New record)

1200m C Isabella Lemaire 3: 54.53 (New record)

2000m C Isabella Lemaire 6: 54.97 (New record)

High Jump C Alex Gionet 1.55m

Triple Jump J Alex Cormier 12.94m

Javelin Throw C Jérémie Hébert 44.09

Shot Put J Kyla Hughes 14.05m (New Record)

Discus Throw J Christian Godin 33.43m

Silver medal :

200m C Janelle Allanach 28.06

400m J Caroline Gagnon 1: 01.82

800m J Alexi Cedric Roy 2: 03.06

1200m C François Richard 3: 30.19

2000m C Emily Doucet 7: 03.23

2000m C François Richard 6: 04.40

Relay 4x100m J Girls

Relay 4x100m J Boys

Shot Put C Pascal Castonguay 10.79m

Shot Put J Rachelle Haché 12.57m

Javelin Throw J Kyla Hughes 36.40m

Javelin Throw C Yanic Duplessis 41.98m

Long Jump J Jean-Marc Gaudet 6.16m

Bronze medal :

100m J Caroline Gagnon 12.82

200m J Caroline Gagnon 26.95

300m C Janelle Allanach 43.70

300m C Anthony Cormier Losier 40.39

400m J Joelle Leger 1: 01.93

400m J Jérémie Godin 53.30

800m C Isabella Lemaire 2: 24.61

800m C Antony Cormier Losier 2: 05.23

800m J Jérémie Godin 2: 04.85

Long Jump C Alex Gionet 4.76m

Long Jump J Joelle Leger 4.92m

High Jump J Alex Cormier 1.70m

Triple jump C Alex Gionet 10.13m

Discus Throw C Yanic Duplessis 31.00m

Shot Put C Yanic Duplessis 12.00m

Shot Put J Christian Godin 11.53m


Jul 17 2017 - JDLF Athlete Profile: Barry Britt On Making The Transition

Words by Grace Annear

 

Barry Britt has been on more national teams than just about any other Athletics New Brunswick athlete. He’s represented Canada nine times, including seven Senior National Cross-Country teams. He’s spent the better part of a decade running through the streets of Hampton, NB, the dirt roads of Moscow, Idaho, and the trails of Guelph, Ontario. His long stride floats like a nimble-legged ghost, and elite athletes across Canada know him as an offbeat, lanky east coaster, as a crazy mileage guy who lives on steak and potatoes.

 

In 2016 he qualified to represent Team Canada—Nouveau-Brunswick at the World Francophone Games. He’s spent 2017 moving in a new direction, while simultaneously gearing up to compete again on the world’s stage.

 

Inspired by his road running dad and cousin, Barry first started racing in his early teens. In 2005 he medaled in his age category at Legions and qualified for Canada Games. Though the travel opportunities initially hooked him into the sport, he stayed for what he calls “the typical clichés”.

 

“From the beginning, I loved thrill of racing, of competing and challenging myself, and of seeing personal growth day after day.”

 

After high school he travelled south of the border. First to Georgia State and then to Idaho, he lived his dream of the near-professional NCAA lifestyle.

 

“School was paid for. I got free gear, travelled to top meets, and trained in beautiful facilities. I had coaches who treated athletes with the respect of professionals and who put so much work into the program. I had a ton of fun and loved every second of it.”

 

After coaching and training for a year in Idaho, he joined the Speed River program in Guelph. For two years he lived the professional athlete life, running 160-180km a week and working part-time. For a decade, Barry has excelled in the muddy, tough conditions of the cross-country course, out-gritting fairweather athletes to medal positions at national championships.

 

Now, he’s entering a new stage of life. Last fall he enrolled in Firefighting at Holland College, and with that came big changes.

 

“[Being a firefighter] was actually my dream as a little kid – my dad’s a firefighter. In university, I took a class where we had to interview a working professional, so I asked my dad about his work. He gave me a paragraph answer, and it gave me chills. Instantly, I was like ‘I want that for my life’.”

 

“I’ve always liked that, when you’re a firefighter, you are able to help people on a daily basis.  Whether it’s something big like saving someone from burning building, or saving someone with CPR, or even just lending a shoulder to cry on, I find this profession to be special and meaningful.”

 

This past year, life as a firefighter-in-training kept him busy. The military-style training began with 5:30 am gym sessions and often ended with classes into the night. This busy schedule forced him to cut down his athletics program – he shifted from fourteen runs per week to four or five.

 

“I feel like I’m moving into a different stage as an athlete. Last fall was the first time that school came first and running came second. It was a change, but I wasn’t upset. It feels like the right time to make this change, and it’s so cool to pursue something so meaningful to me.”

 

Throughout the process, he found a ton of connections between running and firefighting. “I noticed, once I started the program, how much things cross over. They’re both oriented around hard work, commitment, attention to detail. But more than that, to be good at it, you need to always want to evolve and get better. Once you graduate, you can’t just sit on your butt. You need to keep learning, keep staying up to date, otherwise you’re limiting yourself and the people you serve.”

 

“You can’t be a complacent firefighter. To be a good runner it’s the same.”

 

In May, he passed a final interview for the Saint John Fire Department. After four weeks of additional training, the city of Saint John will hire him as a full-fledged firefighter. In terms of track, Barry’s summer racing plans revolve around competing in the 5k at JDLF in July. He was able to maintain a baseline fitness in the fall, and when classes ended in January, he started ramping back up into training.

 

To complete as he hopes, he will rely on the deeply ingrained history of miles and miles. Despite having to back off the past year, he knows the time spent hardening his stride will serve him at JDLF this year. More importantly, though, his years and years will of running have prepared him for the next stage of life, one he’s thrilled to begin.

 

 

To follow Barry’s journey, hop over to ANB.ca, or check out his social media @brit8180

 

2017-07-21 - JDLF Athlete Profile: Jon Gionet On The People that Believe in You
2017-07-17 - Jeux de la Francophonie Canadienne Moncton-Dieppe
2017-07-17 - JDLF Athlete Profile: Barry Britt On Making The Transition
2017-07-13 - Canadian Track and Field Championship Recap
2017-07-12 - 2017 Team New Brunswick 2017 Legion Championships

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