The home team will be well represented in track and field competition at the Cowichan 2018 BC Summer Games.
The CVAC Jaguars, who make their base at the Cowichan Sportsplex, will have no fewer than eight of their own athletes in contention for medals.
Competing under the Island banner will be Margo Blumel, in triathlon, Tahara Brown, in high jump and triple jump, Sarah Carson, in high jump and triple jump, Jayda Lauzon, in high jump and triple jump, Lexi Lazenby, in hammer and 300m hurdles, Syon Foo, in 100m hurdles, 300m dash and long jump, Josh Greir, in 200m and 300m dash, and Ben Rossouw, in high jump, triple jump and javelin.
The eight Jaguars qualified to represent the Island through a meet in Nanaimo earlier this year. The top three finishers all qualified for the regional team, but receiving email confirmation was still rewarding.
“We already knew before,” Rossouw said. “But it was really satisfying, like all our hard work was paying off.”
A track and field veteran who has spent seven years with the Jaguars, Rossouw enjoys the sport for the variety of events it offers.
“I like how you have plenty of options,” he said. “There’s lots of variety. Everyone has their own thing; it’s hard not to find something you enjoy, that you’re good at.”
While some competitors might feel more pressure competing in front of a home crowd, Rossouw believes it will work the other way.
“Because you’re representing Cowichan, everyone will be rooting for you,” he said. “It takes a lot of pressure off that they want to see you do well.”
Rossouw is aiming to set personal bests when he competes at the Summer Games.
“It’s all you can do,” he said. “I want to go out there and have fun and do well.”
Foo is in his first year with the Jaguars, and is excited to be competing on his home turf.
“It’s awesome it’s here this year,” he said. “It’s awesome we don’t have to travel.”
Foo is just hoping to “have fun” at the Cowichan 2018 Games.
“It’s all about the experience for me,” he said.
Another first-year Jaguar, Greir got into track and field after playing other sports for years.
“It’s my main sport now,” he stated.
Greir would be happy to compete in the Summer Games regardless of their location.
“It’s exciting to have it here because it’s our home venue,” he said. “Travelling would be fun too, to see other cities.”
Personal bests are always the goal, Greir noted, but he’d be even happier to win a medal.
“To get on the podium would be awesome,” he said.
Lazenby concedes that her two events — hammer and hurdles — are very different, but she comes by them both honestly. She still laughs when recalling her first hurdles race, having prepared for a 200m distance only to find out on the day of the meet that it was actually 300m.
“Hammer is one of the things just I picked up,” she added. “We don’t train in hammer here. but I went to a meet and picked it up and tossed it, and never put it down.”
Lazenby said she wouldn’t mind travelling elsewhere for the Games, but she is still looking forward to competing in the Cowichan Valley.
“I think it would be a bit more exciting if it wasn’t at our home base,” she said. “But it will be good no matter where we are.”
Lazenby isn’t optimistic about her chances at the Games, but she’s hoping to surprise herself.
“I personally don’t think I’ll do too well,” she said. “But I hope to do better than I expect myself to do.”
Carson started track and field this season after years of competitive gymnastics, and immediately enjoyed the less-structured nature of her new sport.
“I love it. It’s lots of fun,” she said. “You get to have fun with it.”
Like many of her teammates, she’s excited about competing at the Sportsplex.
“It will be good,” she said. “We’ll be more comfortable. We’re used to this track, so hopefully that will help us out a bit.”
Personal bests are Carson’s goal.
“I kind of want to try my best,” she said. “I hope to make it on the podium, but I’m not expecting it. We’ll see how it goes. There will be a lot of people.”
A Jaguars veteran like Rossow, Blumel has been competing in track and field for six years. Pentathlon, she explained, gives her the opportunity to sample a little of everything, combining 80m hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and 800m.
“When I go to a track meet, I don’t like to focus on one or two events,” she said. “I like to do all of them.”
Blumel is also pleased that she gets to compete in the Cowichan Valley.
“I’m looking forward to being able to represent Vancouver Island with my friends from all over the Island and home,” she said.
Two other area athletes who train and compete with the Nanaimo Track and Field Club have also been named to the Island team: Kaz Bannister of Thetis Island will race in the 100m and 200m, and Brielle Woodruff of Chemainus is entered in the Penathlon.