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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.

2017-11-22 - New Brunswick athletes ready for National Cross Country Championships
2017-11-20 - 18th Annual Gagetown Meet & ANB Awards Gala
2017-11-05 - Atlantic Cross Country Championships Recap
2017-11-02 - Lalonde, Doucet, Dickinson, LeBlanc , Coombes, Church and Arseneault among Sport NB's Konica Minolta Sport Awards Finalist
2017-10-30 - Atlantic Athletics Summit

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