Kleinsmith a quick learner
Matthew Kleinsmith is making the best of a less than ideal situation.
The 14-year-old Fonthill resident enjoys cross-country racing, but thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, had to switch to track and field with no high school cross-country races scheduled this fall.
The Grade 9 student at E.L. Crossley is now concentrating on the 1,500 and 3,000-metre races and the early results are impressive and encouraging.
Kleinsmith set a personal best with a time of 10:02.20 in the men’s 3,000 Saturday at the Niagara Olympic Club’s third and final mini meet.
Kleinsmith easily won his heat, leading from start to finish, and placed 14th overall against much older and more experienced competition.
“I was trying to stay ahead but having my friend Sammy (Tonnies) out there, he’s pretty fast as well, but I wanted to lead most of that race,” Kleinsmith said. “I was aiming for 10 or 10:05 so I got that and I’m happy.”
Kleinsmith has learned not to worry about what is going on behind him.
“It’s better to always look forward. You don’t want look back because you can get worried and then go faster and that can make you lose your energy. You just want to go at your same pace and not look back.
“When someone is beside you is when you really want to run.”
Kleinsmith admitted he’s still getting used to track racing.
“I like cross-country a lot. I like the longer distances, 14 and 15k, but since cross-country isn’t on I settled for a longer track race which turned out pretty well,” he said.
“I like cross-county more. The track race is more boring because there’s not a lot to see. It’s going in circles, but it’s a lot quicker because you don’t have the weird terrain beneath your feet.”
Kleinsmith began competitive racing in Grade 3 and by Grade 5 had set a record at the District School Board of Niagara’s Elementary School meet.
He joined the Thorold Elite Track Club last summer but quickly injured himself.
“I broke my foot so I didn’t run cross-country last year, I didn’t do a lot of running” he said. “I’m just coming back.”
Kleinsmith broke his foot playing basketball where he suits up as a point guard in the Canadian Youth Basketball League.
“I think I’m better at basketball because I focus more on that and I’ve been playing since I was three,” he said.
He said has no issues juggling school with basketball and track.
“It’s part of an athlete’s life having this schedule,” he said.
BPSN’s coverage of track and field is made possible with the support of the Niagara Olympic Club (https://nocrunners.com).
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