Nickel bronze at OFSAA
Alexandra Nickel was living in the moment competing in the open girls 2,000-metre steeplechase at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations track and field championships.
“It is super, super important because you need to know where every part of your legs are and how your arms are as you go over each barrier,” the Grade 12 student at Saint-Jean-de-Brébeuf in Welland said. “Even a slight slip of your focus can be disastrous. I had that in the final when I fell on my second water jump and I had to regain my focus to stay in the fight.”
The 18-year-old Welland resident was able to recover quickly.
“It was immediate acceleration to try and keep up with the other girls because obviously I was a little more tired after that. My gait was maybe a little bit off but I just tried to keep up and be close enough in fourth place to overtake at the end.”
The Thorold Elite Track Club member trailed the third-place runner by about 10 metres late in the race but the girl had a bit of a stumble allowing Nickel to finish third and claim the bronze medal.
“Alex proved how much she wanted it in the last 100 metres where she did overtake a girl to clinch the bronze medal and there was just no stopping her,” Thorold Elite coach Steven Fife said.
At no point in the race did Nickel think an OFSAA medal wasn’t possible.
“I was confident that I was closing ground and I figured that I would be able to overtake her with my final kick.”
At OFSAA, she ran a 7:08.75 in the preliminaries which was a new personal best, beating the 7:09.80 time she had posted in setting a record at the Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association championships.
“I am hoping later in the season I will be able to break seven (minutes).”
It was a memorable moment when the bronze medal was placed around her neck.
“It was absolutely crazy. I never thought in the past that I would ever be a competitor for a medal at OFSAA. It was great going into the day knowing I would be a contender but it still was a huge shock,” she said. “Looking at the pictures from the podium, I had a big smile and was clearly over the moon.”
Nickel just started competing in the steeplechase this spring and ran it for the first time at the Bulldog Invitational.
“I think I already had a natural inclination to the steeplechase from cross county because it requires that grit and stamina so it was just working day in and day out on the hurdles to feel comfortable going over that 30 inches,” she said. “The hardest thing was improving my water jumps which I got really comfortable with towards the end of the high school season.
“I still have more ground to make up and more improvements but that was key.”
She needs to get more distance on the jumps over the water.
“As I get my technique better pushing off the barrier, I will be able to make more distance on those jumps.”
Fife has been impressed with Nickel ever since she joined Thorold Elite in September 2021.
“Alex made an immediate impact and has been a rockstar from the beginning. As a leader, a role model, and a motivator she is stellar, and when it comes to a tough workout she gets it done every time and that is the kind of mental fortitude that it takes to be successful in steeplechase.”
Nickel, who was eighth at OFSAA senior girls cross country last fall and 39th at cross country nationals, is planning to run for the University of Toronto in the fall and study chemical engineering.
“They have an incredible engineering program which is what I was looking for and being in one of the top engineering programs in the world will be amazing. Also, their track and cross country programs are at the top as well. I met the team and the coach and there is a great team environment.”
Nickel recently added another bronze medal to her collection, finishing third in the 3,000-metre steeplechase at the Bell Canadian Track and Field Championships in Langley, B.C. Her 11:07 time was a personal best.