Bentley fires up local pole vault program with a $39,500 grant

A $39,500 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is allowing the London Western Track and Field Club to soar to new heights.

At the Forest City High School Track Meet at Western University on Saturday morning (April 28), the club announced it would use the money to build up its pole vault program through the purchase of 42 new high-tech poles and accessories.

Out of 122 club members, 18 are pole vault athletes, said John Stevenson, the club’s coach and president.

He added the club has a 10-year business plan to build a “province-leading pole vault program” and the first purchase using grant money was made on Thursday (April 26).

The club bought 36 new carbon-weave poles, replaced two broken poles and purchased items such as crossbars and bags used to carry the poles.

Part of the grant money will also allow the club’s 22 volunteer coaches to upgrade their certifications.

And since the average age of the province’s track officials is 62, Stevenson said the club can use some of the grant money to attract younger officials to oversee local and provincial meets.

“We’re really excited about it,” he said.

London West MPP Chris Bentley came out to the meet to mark the grant announcement and fired a starter’s pistol to begin one of the races.

He and London North Centre MPP Deb Matthews played a role in making sure the grant would go to the club.

“With this grant, the London-Western Track and Field Club will continue to help foster the talent of our young athletes,” Bentley said.

An agency of the provincial government, the OTF supports volunteering and community-based programs across the province through grants.

By:  Paul Everest/London Community

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