When it comes to clearing hurdles, Shane Stewart has been finding ways to overcome them.
The Ballenas Secondary athlete just achieved a personal milestone when he captured his first men’s 110-metre hurdles gold medal at the 2018 British Columbia High School Track and Field Championships that took place in Langley, B.C. recently.
The Grade 11 student not only won his first provincial title but also posted a personal best when he finished the distance in 15:25 ahead of Jacob Kooy of W.J. Mouat and Jacob Walters of Mission, who both placed second and third respectively.
“It felt pretty good,” said Stewart. “It was exciting because I was seeded second not first. I also achieved a pretty good personal best. Before that my best time was 15:88.”
For Stewart, the provincials was a major event because he is limited to smaller races here on the Island, which this year he has dominated, having won every race he has entered.
“I was a little nervous at first because I am not used to any big races here on the Island,” said Stewart, who is a towering athlete standing at six-foot-five inches tall. “The nervousness kind of turned into like excitement. I know it was going to be a good race and I was confident that I could place first or a close second.”
This, however, was not Stewart’s first trip to the provincials. He has made it there every year since 2015 and this year was his biggest breakthrough at the BCs.
“Last year, I came in ninth place,” said Stewart. “But I was a Grade 10 athlete running in a Grade 11 and 12 category. I decided to run in it because Grade 10s only run 100-metre hurdles. I was just getting ahead in my training.”
Stewart plans to continue competing in club meets here on the Island and use them as a way to tune-up for his next big race, the 2018 Canadian Legion Youth Track and Field Championships in Brandon, Man. Aug. 10-12.
“I qualified for it,” said Stewart. “You have to run the 110-metre hurdles in under 16 seconds.”
Unfortunately for Stewart, Parksville Qualicum Beach does not have a proper track and field facility where he could train on. He has to travel to Courtenay three to four times a week to get the kind of training he needs.
“Since elementary school until Grade 9-10 I always had to train on the dirt track behind Ballenas,” said Stewart. “I am not going to lie, it’s pretty terrible.”
The only area at the Ballenas field where Stewart can practice hurdling was the long-jump runway but it could only accommodate a maximum of three hurdles, which he said was not enough. As well, he also needs to wear spiked shoes during training.
“Doing sprint workouts in running shoes is a lot different when you do it in spikes shoes on a rubberized track,” Stewart explain.
Stewart has one more year in high school but he is already planning his future in track and field.
He intends to pursue a scholarship at a university either here in Canada or in the United States.