Thorold Elite athletes strike gold at U.S. nationals
Two members of the Thorold Elite Track Club brought home gold medals from the recent Amateur Athletic Union 14 and under Indoor National Championships at Eastern Michigan University.
Deagen Hallett won gold in the 3,000 metres and Leah Sandel mined gold in the 11 and under girls shot put
“In Canada, there are no nationals (indoor or outdoor) for athletes in this under-14 age group so sometimes we need to look south of the border to find the right opportunities for some of our athletes and Deagen and Leah are definitely two of the kids that I thought could shine here,” Thorold Elite coach Steven Fife said. “It’s a totally different world in the States and it’s also good to open their eyes a bit to what else is out there besides what we do here in Ontario.”
Hallett, a 12-year-old Oakridge student, earned three medals at the meet. He started by winning a bronze in the 1,500 metres in a time of 4:40.36, which was 0.6 seconds behind the winner. He followed that up with a photo finish, silver medal in the 800 metres in a personal best time of 2:18.72. Less that two hours after running the 800 metres, Hallett made the most of his first attempt at 3,000 metres on a track by winning in a time of 10:23.99.
“Hallett is a special talent and to go to a meet in the U.S. for the first time and come away with three medals in one weekend is really impressive,” Fife said. “We saw him be pushed by kids his own age in a way that he isn’t over here and that’s really what we were looking for, was not just the experience but the higher level of competition.”
Hallett is coached primarily by Fife with assistance from the rest of the Thorold Elite distance coaches, which include Cheryl Rosts, Kelly Uskin, Kenny McLeod, and Robyn Hartley.
“Even though I may be the one doing the planning and the programming, one of the other coaches might be leading that workout, so it really is a team effort and a credit to Deagen who gives his all in every single workout,” he said. “We all think the world of him.”
Sandel, a 10-year-old St. George student, threw 6.7 metres to win gold. The throw was not a personal best but it was two metres farther than the next closest competitor. Sandel is coached primarily by Johnny Ahlstedt with assistance from the rest of the Thorold Elite throws coaches, which include Kelly Saldutto, Emily Good, Amanda Evans, and Fife. Sandel’s father, Sean, is also getting into coaching.
“The great thing is that, just like for an athlete, you really don’t need to have experience to get started. You just need a desire to get involved and to learn and to make an impact and it’s amazing once you get started how quickly you can get sucked into it,”
The Thorold Elite squad will continue to compete indoors for about another month and then will head outside for training and competition through the spring and summer.