Another medal haul for Thorold Elite athletes
Members of the Thorold Elite Track Club were in fine form this past weekend in Athletics Ontario Indoor Championship Series action.
Competing in the Rising Stars Championships for athletes in the under-8, under-10, under-12 and under-14 age categories, club athletes brought home an impressive 18 medals.
Thorold Elite’s top performer was Raelon Berardi, who earned three gold medals in the under-12 boys 150 metres, 300 metres, and 1000 metres. His brother, Graydon Berardi, and sister, Ambria Berardi, also took home gold medals in the under-10 boys and under-8 girls 60- and 50-metre races respectively.
Thrower Leah Sandel continued her run of gold medals by winning the under-12 girls shot put event. Rounding out the gold medal performances by Thorold Elite athletes was the under-14 boys 4×800-metre relay team, consisting of Brock Piekny, Justin Martens, Neithan Vanegas and Deagen Hallett.
Thorold Elite athletes earning silver medals were: Hallett in the under-14 boys 800 metres, 1200 metres and 2000 metres; Neithan Vanegas in the under-14 boys 150 metres; Ambria Berardi in the under-8 girls 60 metres; and, Graydon Berardi in the under-10 boys 60 metres and 300 metres.
Earning bronze were: Madison Kwofie in the under-12 girls 60 metres, 150 metres and 60-metre hurdles; Dalton Huibers in the under-8 boys 50 metres; and, the under-14 boys 4×200-metre relay team, made up of Neithan Vanegas, Justin Martens, Hunter Collee, and Connor Shaw.
“It has only been about the last year-and-a-half that we’ve been offering this amount of programming for these younger age groups,” Thorold Elite coach Steven Fife said. “Competitions are tougher because all indoor meets are in Toronto so not everybody wants to drive up that far to compete in the winter but once we are outdoor we hold a bunch of meets locally so it’s a great chance for kids to participate outside of their school meets.”
Outdoor training for the club starts shortly and it has three options for the athletes in the under-8 to under-14 categories.
“We offer what we call the Future Track Stars program which is more introductory and recreational and designed for kids 10 and under to learn the basics of running and track and field. Those practices are held twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays,” Fife said. “The next step up is the Junior Development Program where athletes begin to focus on a certain discipline like sprints, distance, hurdles, jumps. Or possibly multiple disciplines but it’s more specialized and geared towards getting them ready for competition with their school meets or club meets. The third opportunity we have is summer camps which provide a week of track and field activities covering the whole spectrum of events.’
Fife believes the grassroots approach of providing training to athletes in the 6-12 year-old range will pay off dividends for athletes, families, and ultimately for the club.
“I’ve always said that one of our goals is for families to realize that track and field is a viable sport and is not just something you do at school for a month in the spring. Every athlete, no matter what their sport is, can benefit from learning how to run and run properly, and from improving their speed, endurance, and coordination. These future track stars will be our high-performance athletes a few years down the line and the early foundations will make a huge difference to their long-term development.”
The club is continuing to seek additional coaches to help support its programming for all ages.
“We try to divide up the training groups as much as possible so that hopefully the same coach who is coaching the high school/high-performance athletes isn’t coaching the younger ages so if you have an athlete that you’re looking to sign up and maybe willing to get involved as well, please reach out to me as we have a lot going on and could always use more bodies and coaches.”
Registration is available for the outdoor season at www.trackiereg.com/thoroldelitetc2023. Training and competition is offered for all ages, all events, and all ability levels.