Makiah Hunt’s unforgettable Summer Games moment
Makiah Hunt is shown in action representing the University of South Dakota. RACHEL BELLWOOD PHOTO
The moment is indelibly etched in the memory of Makiah Hunt.
It’s July 31, 2017, and the Niagara Falls athlete stands on the pole vault runway on the floor of the University Stadium at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. The wind is howling and the Canada Summer Games’ crowd is focused on the only event still running at the stadium.
After winning the gold medal with a leap of 3.95 metres, on her third and final attempt, the Bolton Pole Vault member has asked that the bar be raised to a Canada Games’ record of 4.02 metres.
Hunt races down the runway and uses her powerful body to launch successfully over the bar and into the record books. The crowd erupts when she lands and she raises her hands above her head and claps with excitement.
“The fans were super-involved. I ended up making it and it was really exciting for everyone,” the 22-year-old said.
Her Ontario teammate, Rachel Wolfs, finished second with a leap of 3.85 metres, which made the moment even more special.
“That was really great for Ontario that we ended up going one, two,” Hunt said.
Earlier that day, the moment seemed impossible.
“It was really bad weather and windy and a lot of the girls were struggling,” she said. “When we started the meet, I remember the official announced the Canada Games’ record which was 4.01 (metres) at the time. We were all looking at each other and thinking that it would be a tough one to get to.”
The 4.02-metre mark was 0.04 metres off her personal best at the time, but at no time did Hunt feel overconfident.
“On almost every bar (height) I was attempting, it was on my third attempt and last shot that I made it,” she said. “It was a long day.”
The Canada Games gold medal helped Hunt salvage what had been a disappointing 2017 season.
“I was just coming off an international meet in Peru, the Pan Am juniors, where my coach didn’t come and I jumped poorly,” she said. “I was very upset and I thought my season was going to end on a bad note. Having jumped close to my personal best and getting the record, made it an exciting year for me.”
Equally exciting were the Opening Ceremonies at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg.
“They were super cool and it was awesome to have Justin Trudeau there along with a lot of other people. It was a massive Opening Ceremonies,” the Saint Michael Catholic High School alumna said. “I have been to multiple international meets and I had never been to an Opening Ceremonies like that. It was really impressive that Canada had put on something so big.”
She remembers having chills at the event.
“I have a lot of close friends throughout Ontario and we all couldn’t believe that they had put on such a good show.”
Hunt is thrilled the 2021 Canada Sumer Games are coming to Niagara.
“I am super-excited that it is here and I wish I was able to compete.”
Niagara sports fans are in for a treat.
“Everyone should take advantage of the fact that it is in Niagara because I don’t think that we will have an event this big for sports for a long time and I don’t think we have ever had anything like it.”
She feels it’s important for fans to attend the events.
“For me, I had a really good experience because there was such a great crowd. People should consider that when supporting the athletes.”
Hunt, who represented Canada at the 2019 World University Games in Napoli, Italy, is back in her hometown of Niagara Falls after having her junior season at the University of South Dakota cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am just going day by day and hoping that things get better. It’s definitely hard.”
She has been training once or twice a week in Bolton and working out at home.
“We can do some running and a little bit of jumping, but it is hard to keep everything going because there is no real goal,” the three-time Ontario high school champion said. “It is hard to even make a training plan and decide what you are going to do when you don’t have any goals.”
Hunt was doubly disappointed her year was cut short because she was coming off a 2018-19 season in which she red-shirted because of an Achilles tendon injury.
“It kept me out for a long time and it was so hard on me because I had never in my life been injured like that.”
The South Dakota Invitational in December was her first meet since May 2018. She won the invitational with a jump of 4.18 metres and then placed third at the Adidas Classic with a jump of 4.16 in early February.
“I was getting back into it and I had a personal best indoor mark of 4.18 metres, which is pretty close to my all-time personal best of 4.21 metres,” she said. “I felt like I was finally getting back into a groove but you can’t help what happened externally.
“I am not angry or anything but it is just kind of sad.”