Distance jumper and sprinter Rachel Jerome returned home to Ladysmith following the Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships (LNYTFC) with a pair of medals and a freshly-minted 4×100 relay record in tow.
The 15-year-old Team BC-Yukon athlete opted out of Triple Jump on day one of competition at Langley’s McLeod Athletic Park August 9 to focus on her team’s performance in the Midget Girls Branch 4×100 metre relay, she said.
Jerome and teammates Zion Corrales-Nelson, Nina Shultz and Chicago Bains posted a record-setting time of 47.69 seconds in the first heat of the timed finals, crossing the finish line 40 metres ahead of the runner up. Jerome’s team then eyed the clock as heat two rounded the track, waiting to see if their new Canadian U16 Female 4×100 record would be fast enough to earn them gold.
Team Ontario posted a silver-medal time of 48.70 seconds while Team Quebec locked up bronze with a time of 0:49.22.
Shaving 0.6 seconds off a national age-group record while winning gold left Jerome and her teammates feeling “really excited,” she said, a welcome payoff following the team’s pre-race jitters. The team had “never run together before,” Jerome added, meaning they weren’t even seeded going into the race.
During Midget Girls Long Jump on day two of the event, Jerome faced “really intense competition” as she vied for gold versus North Shore jumper Emma Rastad.
Jerome and Rastad tied on their final jump as each girl posted a personal best of 5.61 metres.
“What they do when there’s a tie in long jump,” explained Jerome, “is look back on [athletes’] next farthest jumps. Hers was 5.48 and mine was 5.42.”
Rastad’s six-centimetre advantage translated to a gold medal for the NorWesters’ athlete while Jerome earned silver and Team Saskatchewan’s Joely Welburn walked away with bronze.
Considering they tied on their longest jumps, having to settle for silver left Jerome feeling slightly disappointed, but besting her expectations and setting a new personal best more than made up for it.
Jerome set her previous “PB” of 5.39 metres while competing at the BC Athletics Championships Jamboree in Kamloops July 19-21, she said, and she came into nationals with intentions of setting a new PB of 5.5 metres.
Stretching her longest jump by a full fifth of a metre “was a lot better than I wanted,” Jerome said, “so I was happy with that.”
The LNYTFC caps off Jerome’s season, she said, and she’s planning on taking time off until high school volleyball starts up later this fall.
Jerome anticipates a return to the track “in March or April,” she said.